Mental illness can be a massive part of peoples lives. If your lucky enough to not have one, chances are you will know someone that does. Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will have some sort of mental health issue in their life time, anxiety and depression being the most common.
Working in a care environment I have seen first hand how mental illness’s can make or break someone. I have seen the devastating effects of how it can potentially ruin your life. In a way the patients in the care facilities are the lucky ones. Shockingly enough out of the 300 people in 1000, only 230 will visit there GP and only 24 will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service.
I believe that raising awareness can save lives. Recognising the signs is the first step towards this. Now..this is the tricky bit because mental illnesses can range from acute depression all way to schizophrenia and split personality disorders.
Let’s start with defining mental illness, if that’s possible! A mental illness is a disease or abnormality in the brain that can cause disturbance in thoughts. This then effects behaviour, mild or severe, that can lead to an inability to cope with every day life.
There can be a number of causes for mental illness such as genetics, environment, a certain stressful event or even a biochemical imbalance. Due to this fact the treatments are all very different.
There are thousands of warning signs of mental illness. I believe that the most important thing to do is listen to your gut feeling. If you know someone isn’t acting themselves then maybe look for some of these symptoms
- Confused thinking
- Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
- Feelings of extreme highs and lows
- Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
- Social withdrawal
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Strong feelings of anger
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
- Suicidal thoughts
- Denial of obvious problems
- Numerous unexplained physical ailments
- Substance abuse
…but what next?
[Exercise] – It’s a tedious answer I know but its actually a scientific fact that exercise makes us feel much happier. It releases endorphins, such as Serotonin, and also decreases the stress hormones, such as cortisol. You only need to do 10 minutes of moderate exercise to feel the effects, so get running!
[Set goals] – Setting goals is a great way of progressing and improving your life. Sometimes its much easier to see how far you have come in writing. This will make you feel so much better about yourself!
[Express your feelings] – Find someone that you trust to talk to. Don’t let all the bad stuff bubble up inside you.
[Helping a loved one]
Here are a few tips that you can do to help a loved one with mental health problems.
[Show your support] – Just by letting them know that you are there for them will be a huge weight off there shoulders.
[Knowledge] – Learn about the illness, this will enable you to support them better.
[Trust] – Can they trust you? If they tell you something in confidence don’t tell anyone else. Chances are it took them a lot of courage to tell you in the first place.
[Normality] – Don’t just talk about mental health. Mental health doesn’t define them as a person, its just a small part of their life that they would probably rather forget about.
[Look after yourself ]– How can you help them if you are falling apart yourself. Give some time to yourself to make sure you’re well in mind and body. You’re important too.
[Medication] – The most likely form of treatment many sufferers receive from there GP is medication. Don’t get me wrong, medication doesn’t claim to cure the illness but it can definitely ease some of the distress that they may be in.
[Talking] – There are many forms of talking treatment such as counselling, psychotherapy, CBT which is means cognitive behavioural therapy, and lastly two forms of therapy, group therapy and family therapy.
[Residential care] – Now this is for the more extreme cases. Patients are admitted to residential homes if they are finding it particularly hard coping with every day life, from cooking and cleaning to personal care. This way they get the support that they need to recover.
As I said before I believe that raising awareness is so important.
Next time you go to laugh at someone or point because they’re acting strange or talking to themselves, think about what they might be going through.
Some of this information was sourced from a great website. They also have links and contact details for organisations that may be able to help [here].