Mental health 

Introduction 

Attitudes to mental health

Four people who've had mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia and personality disorder, talk about the negative reactions they faced and how they overcame them.

Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. One in four people in the UK has a mental health problem at some point, which can affect their daily life, relationships or physical health.

Mental health problems can affect anyone. Without support and treatment, mental health problems can have a serious effect on the individual and those around them.

Every year in the UK, more than 250,000 people are admitted to psychiatric hospitals and over 4,000 people commit suicide.

Mental health disorders

Mental health disorders take many different forms and affect people in different ways. Schizophreniadepression and personality disorders are all types of mental health problem.

Diseases such as dementia generally develop in old age, whereas eating disorders are more common in young people.

There is no single cause of mental health problems and the reasons they develop are complex.

Who is affected

Mental health problems are more common in certain groups, such as:

  • people with poor living conditions
  • people from ethnic minority groups
  • disabled people
  • homeless people
  • offenders

Sometimes, people with mental health problems are discriminated against. This can lead to social problems such as homelessness, which may make the mental health problem worse.

Some mental health problems are more common in certain people. For example, women are more likely than men to have anxiety disorders and depression. Drug and alcohol addictions are more common in men, and men are also more likely to commit suicide.

Mental health problems can develop as a result of difficult life events, such as moving house, losing your job or the death of someone close to you. Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time and using illegal drugs can contribute to mental health problems, particularly in people who are already vulnerable.

Treatment and support

People with mental health problems need help and support to enable them to cope with their illness. There are many treatments, including medication, counsellingpsychotherapy and self help.

It is important that people with mental illnesses are told about the options available so they can decide which treatment suits them best.

An important step in the recovery process is for the person to accept that they are ill and to want to get better. This can take time, and it is important for family and friends to be supportive.

Many support groups and charities offer advice, confidential counselling and information about the types of treatment available and where to get help.

Carers

If you look after someone who is ill or disabled, your mental health may be affected. An official report on the mental health of carers found that more than half of all carers reported symptoms of mental health issues, such as stress or depression. This is higher than in the general population.

To find out about services that could help you cope with caring for someone, visit Carers Direct.




Last reviewed: 27/01/2010

Next review due: 27/01/2012

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Comments are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

SueSee said on 15 November 2011

My 28yr old daughter is not functioning. She stays in bed, unwashed, for weeks on end. She is withdrawn, stays up all night making lists, and occasionally is seriously violent.

She won't see a doctor, and I don't suppose there is much point because the treatment is simply not available. She has been like this since her teens, but it is getting worse, and I am emotionally exhausted and at my wits end.

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hello456 said on 14 November 2011

i dont know what is wrong with me, i have had bipolar been suggested by my boyfriend but i dont think it is?
i seem to get very easily stressed about the smallest of things and this can make me feel extremely low
when things go slightly wrong i seem to make it 100 times worse than what it is.. i feel so low sometimes i have thoughts of suicide.
i seem to act irrationally towards my boyfriend alot ive now pushed him away because of this and i dont know why i do these things i feel as if im not in control of my emotions and actions
ive only recently noticed that if im not feeling low im ethier tired or very hyper and annoying.. but these moods can change so quickly which to me says its not bipolar. i tend to talk really fast and jumble my words up alot when im hyper
i really think i need help now, i want to find out whats wrong with me so i can change this and make my life better and others around me too

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Mumwith2kids said on 21 September 2011

Dear Paddy1998

Hope it's not too late but I think you should ask to be tested for Asperger's Syndrome or ASD. Your symptoms sound like you may have it or be borderline. If you do get a diagnosis it will open you up to so many brilliant channels of help (see nas.org.uk). My son is on the autistic spectrum so I recognise what you are talking about. Be strong!

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Hugo12 said on 30 May 2011

I used to think that there is a safety net. "They" wont let you fall through the floor. "They"? Society. But that is just what happens. For a bit, I had money and private care for lifelong depression. But as soon as the money went, the care too. I can now have an occassional appointment and try some different pills. I could also join a queue for a little therapy that I used to do regularly, admittedly with little success. But otherwise, tough luck. My state of mind is one where I am divorced from family and friends. I try self help groups but my condition make sit unbearable. I have learned personal responsibility, I have grown up over the many years. I must do something rather than waiting for "them" to save me but I am unable. So I live for as long as I am afraid of dying.

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Piggle said on 17 May 2011

It's all very well them saying on here that people with mental health problems "need help and support to enable them to cope with their illness" but where is the support?

I have been told multiple times now that there is no treatment suitable for me so I can't have any help. My problems are more complex so would need more long term help and sadly that is not available on the NHS, you can have 4 sessions with someone who isn't qualified to treat your condition or nothing.

I have been told that there is only one CPN covering the whole of my area, that is just ridicules. I have also been told that due to lack of funds they are unable to diagnose more complex conditions so if you have anything more than mild depression you are stuffed.

Currently I have been waiting 8 weeks for a referral to mental health services, that is just for a simple initial appointment to the gateway team. If it wasn't for my boyfriend keeping me as together as he can I probably would have killed myself by now because they really do give you the impression that they don't care.

I really feel sorry for my new GP, she is trying her best to get me help but there is only so much she can do. Ideally I need to be with the CMHT but only a psychiatrist can refer you and they don't seem to have the ability to write a simple letter let alone decide what treatment is best for you.

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depressed_sister said on 30 April 2011

despondantdad,

I just wanted to say that I totally agree with you and you are not alone. My family is in a similar situation with my brother and has been for the last 5 years. The treatment my brother received through the NHS has been useless. So much so that he is unwilling to see any doctor now and his condition has worsened. I am unconvinced that he was ever diagnosed correctly by the nhs. My family are now at their wits end and do not know where to turn for help.

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User492632 said on 12 March 2011

Many people are put on psychiatric drugs for life instead of being given the real help needed and encouragement to get on with their lives. Psychiatric drugs should not be taken longterm because they can cause tardive dyskinesia and even brain damage. I think too much trust is put in psychiatry and most of the disorders they diagnose are completely unproven and unscientific. People often just need someone who will really listen and understand not a psychiatric lifelong label and damaging drugs. A more holistic approach is needed and we should not treat mental and physical health as two different things.

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despondentdad said on 16 August 2010

My daughter has mental health issues, which make life for all of us, including her, very difficult. She feels that support from the NHS is absolutely useless and I would agree with her. She has attempted suicide a number of times and been seen by the crisis team. The last time she attended a session the counsellor spent the time talking about her own successful daughter! She takes her medication but still sinks very low when it becomes - "no one knows what it is like! And no-one will help me!" We don't know what it is like to feel so worthless and angry but we do know that mental health are useless in their support. No contact what-so-ever even after a further two suicide attempts. Our GP is sympathetic but not a Psychaiatrist and all he can do is make referrals to.....Mental Health. As a teenager she received good support but once an adult the transition was marked by an appalling lack of support. It has now got to the stage where her mental illness, marked by violence towards us is making us ill and the day fast apporaches where they may be three of us on medication for depression and related illness. There are times when she is lucid and discussion is possible but then when she is low she is irrational, abusive and violent. Our answer is to phsically throw her out of her home. But this is not the answer to her needs which sadly the NHS are not meeting.

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Riverblue said on 24 May 2010

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to cope with mysterious voices?

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paddy1998 said on 18 May 2010

at the moment im 28 in my last week of my undergrad degree 2 exams this week then its done and no idea whats next im socially avoidant and suffer periodic bouts of depression and today has been a particularly bad day.
ive been single for 10 years the only time ive been out with someone was when i was 17 - 18 for around 3 months she instigated and she broke it off most of the time i find it near impossible to make eye contact with people never mind to say hello. im feeling particularly hopeless at the moment so be brain likes to remind me of these things in intimate details at these moments and i feel just on an edge and completely unsure of what to do

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paddy1998 said on 18 May 2010

at the moment im 28 in my last week of my undergrad degree 2 exams this week then its done and no idea whats next im socially avoidant and suffer periodic bouts of depression and today has been a particularly bad day.
ive been single for 10 years the only time ive been out with someone was when i was 17 - 18 for around 3 months she instigated and she broke it off most of the time i find it near impossible to make eye contact with people never mind to say hello. im feeling particularly hopeless at the moment so be brain likes to remind me of these things in intimate details at these moments and i feel just on an edge and completely unsure of what to do

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asos33 said on 23 April 2010

i really need help to. i have the same as ohsonikky and i am 16 too. i couldnt sit my a levels and its becoming more and more difficult to get out of the house. i feel sick all the time and this is my main fear when i am out so i avoid going anywhere. i cant go to a new place and if i do go out i have to have reassurance that my mum can get me. it is taking over my life and my doctor says he cant do anything for it. i want to have a normal life and at the moment i cant do anything.
im depressed im starting to cut myself off from everyone and live in my bedroom. im afraid of most things now. someone help

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anonymous76 said on 05 April 2010

I am wondering if my mother has a minor mental health illness. she can be the nicest person in the world and then Every so often she turns and makes an argumnt out of anything she can. I there is nothing to argue about she will make an argument about something that is completley normal. Her mother had schizophrenia and her father died when she was young, she had a hard childhood having to watch her father suffer and her mother having this condition. could all these things mean that she may have some kind of minor mental condition or is it just that she likes to argue with me? I am not sure if i am commenting on someone else's queries or beggining my own, sorry if i am commenting on someone else's.

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sammiepeanut said on 16 March 2010

hi i cant sleep tonyt i suffer from bipolar and anxiety and came on this website for help i see a phychiatrist a phychiatrict nurse and a doctor and im on loads of pills to try and help me but some days nothing seems to work not even diazepam which is always given to me when i say im really bad. i have constant thoughts of death and im scared of most things now my bf wants to take me on holiday but the thought of getting on a plane frightens me so much! reading other peoples comments makes me realise im not alone. i need help and dont no how to get it!?

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michmm said on 24 February 2010

i have just been told i have bipola am a 38 year old mum of 7 kids am so low at moment and now am worrying that my children will get it what are the chancese of them getting it and how long will i have to wait for middcation and does tht mean am in tiled to dissebilty allonce and why has it been so long for them to diagnose me help plz am going out of my mine

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pq said on 12 June 2009

Ohsonikky

Please go back to your doctor and say that you want a referal to a Clinical Psychologist or a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist (CBT). These professionals work with panic disorders like the one you are suffering with all the time. CBT is a very effective treatment and you could make a full recovery.

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burd said on 03 June 2009

Hi Ohsonikky,
I read your post whilst doing research for college & just wanted to say keep positive,(I hope you read this post) i used to suffer terribly with panic attacks when i was 16 (am 37 now). It was the scariest thing ever at that time, 1st time it happened I thought i was gonna die! My dr was not very helpful either & I ended up with a self-help technique that a friend taught me. Sounds a bit odd but seemed to help me. When you feel the panic coming on, start focusing on different objects in the room or wherever you are. Look at something & name it (aloud)
keep naming different objects whilst breathing calmly, do it for as long as you need, must focus on the object though & say the name aloud. It gradually helped the panic subside and after a few weeks, i needed to do it less & less. I dont know why it helped, maybe its just because you focus on something external rather than the panic within you. I haven't suffered with panic attacks since but will always remember this technique, it gave me my life back.
Try it, see if it helps. I really hope it does so that you can begin to enjoy your life again.
Best wishes and good luck
x

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ohsonikky said on 26 May 2009

i reaaally need help! i have a extreme panic disorder which is now leading to agoraphobia, i cannot go anywhere, im only 16 years old, and my mum wants me to get a job or go to college so i can earn money,but i phisically cant make myself do it. I really need some help, a psychiatrist or something. ive been to my doctors 4 times now and they keep subscribing me with medication like diazepam and beater blocker and a few others, and they do NOTHING. i cant keep on like this because im starting to trap myself in my bedroom now, i cant even get the guts to go see my friends, i wouldnt do my gcses because i couldnt be out of my house and around people, please,someone help me! its taking over my life.

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