A new place to get help with your mental health and wellbeing.
Types of mental health
Talking about mental health can be confusing – often people think about mental illness and mental health problems when they hear these words. Actually, we all have mental health, and we can be well or unwell, just as with our physical health. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health and we need to look after it!
What is mental health and Wellbeing?
Mental health and wellbeing refers to the health of our minds and the quality of our relationships. It affects our feelings, thoughts, moods, behaviour, and our relationships. It also affects how we can deal with life’s ups and downs and our capacity to make helpful choices. It is important to recognise that our mental health is embedded in our relationships with the important people in our lives. Caring, loving and supportive relationships with trusted and nurturing adults and peers support our mental health and sense of wellbeing. On the other hand, harmful, conflicted or bullying relationships are stressful and threaten our mental health and sense of wellbeing.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), including:
- Domestic violence
- Parental loss through separation or divorce
- Parent with marked mental health problems
- Being victim of harm or abuse or neglect
- Growing up in household where adults misuse drugs or alcohol
are known to be harmful and increase the risks of mental health problems. This is why those helping us sometimes ask: ‘what has happened to you?’ Rather than, ‘what is wrong with you?’
We now know that these experiences in childhood increase the risk of a child or young person experiencing a range of mental health problems. This is why sometimes those helping us, ask us: “what has happened to you? rather than what is wrong with you?”
Why is it important to look after our mental health?
Because when we have good mental health, we can believe in ourselves, we can work, learn and achieve, and enjoy our social and family lives, and we have the skills to cope when life throws us challenges.
Who does mental ill health affect?
We all have mental health, and we can be well or unwell, just as with our physical health. Your age, gender, sexuality, race, religion or occupation doesn’t make a difference.
How does mental ill health affect people?
How we feel is always changing, just as things around us are changing. Sometimes we are excited and happy; at other times, we feel sad, bored or stressed out. It’s perfectly normal to feel low, anxious or overwhelmed, especially when things are difficult. Mostly these feelings will pass quite quickly, however sometimes they develop into more serious problems and begin to affect our day to day lives. This can happen to anyone and is more common than you think. In fact, 19% of adults, 46% of teenagers and 13% of children experience mental health difficulties.
People can experience any or multiple of the following (among others):
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or inability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Major changes in eating habits
- Excessive anger, hostility or violence
- Suicidal thinking
It’s important that if you’re experiencing any of these things that you talk to someone and ask for help. Mental health problems can be treated and getting help and support early can prevent things becoming more serious.
What causes mental ill health?
Just like any physical illness there are a number of different factors which can cause people to suffer from mental ill health, these can include:
Experiencing Trauma – When you experience an Adverse Childhood experience (ACE) it is recognised as a traumatic event-your body’s defences kick in creating a chemical and stress response which helps you respond in the moment. However, following this you can also experience feelings of sadness, anger and guilt which can develop into depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When thinking about these traumatic events it is important to see these as things that have happened to you and to consider how can I make sense of these rather than what is wrong with me. Trusted emotionally available adults can be very helpful in helping us make sense of our feelings, our relationships and our experiences, and give us a sense of hope in moving forward.
Social Factors – there are a wide range of social factors which can affect your mental health including Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) , which as referred to above, can harm your ability to manage your feelings, your mental wellbeing and mental health.
In addition to ACES, current challenges at school, work, family, conflict in friendships and relationships, problems with finances and social media may feel difficult to cope with and are experienced as overwhelming. When this occurs, it can threaten our sense of wellbeing and our mental health. It is important to remember, that many young people can cope with challenges, especially with help and support, and can develop helpful life and problems solving skills.
Genetics – Some disorders have a genetic component to them, e.g. ADHD; autistic spectrum conditions; bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Social factors, including facing high levels of adversity are also likely to play an important role in their development, as well as how they are experienced and managed.
Other Medical Conditions – People who live with long-term physical conditions, such as diabetes and severe asthma, may also be more prone to experience threats to mental health and wellbeing – including experiencing anxiety and depression.