This post is a day late, frankly because yesterday I spent the day travelling to London. A few weeks ago I got invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace for those who work in the mental health sector. The reception was held in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales.
i have been advocating for change in the mental health sector for 5 years now. The overall objective of world mental health day is raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health, so this blog post will do just that.
What is a mental health problem?
Mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel and behave. They affect around one in four people in Britain, and range from common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, to more rare problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A mental health problem can feel just as bad, or worse, as any other physical illness – only you cannot see it.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of a mental health problem can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviours.
Examples of signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or reduced ability 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
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Major changes in eating habits
- Sex drive changes
- Excessive anger, hostility or violence
- Suicidal thinking
Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headache, or other unexplained aches and pains.
Where to go for help
The best way to start is normally by talking to a health care professional, such as your doctor (also known as your General Practitioner or GP).
Your GP can:
- make a diagnosis
- offer you support and treatments
- refer you to a specialist service
What should I say to my GP?
It can be hard to know how to talk to your doctor about your mental health – especially when you’re not feeling well. But it’s important to remember that there is no wrong way to tell someone how you’re feeling.
Here are some things to consider:
- Be honest and open.
- Focus on how you feel, rather than what diagnosis you might meet.
- Try to explain how you’ve been feeling over the past few months or weeks, and anything that has changed.
- Use words and descriptions that feel natural to you – you don’t have to say specific things to get help.
- Try not to worry that your problem is too small or unimportant – everyone deserves help and your doctor is there to support you.