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Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Conditions

Introduction

Mental health conditions are common, and nearly one billion people globally have a mental disorder (UN News), with depression and anxiety being the most common (World Health Organisation (WHO)). According to Mind, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. Suicidal thoughts and self-harm are related to mental health, and 1 in 15 people attempt suicide (Mind). In 2022, there were 5,642 suicides in England and Wales (Office for National Statistics)

It can be extremely difficult for those living with a mental health condition, as it can impact their daily lives and affect their employment, school/college, life and relationships. It can also impact their families, caregivers, friends, and others and affect people in their communities and society, as there are significant health and social care costs associated with treating mental health conditions. According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health problems cost the UK economy at least £117.9 billion annually.

Mental health awareness is essential as it breaks down stigma, tackles discrimination and makes people living with a condition feel more comfortable to seek help and support without judgment and fear. It also makes it easier for people to be aware of the help and resources available and where to find support so they can signpost to others needing assistance. This blog aims to help understand common mental health conditions and strategies for supporting individuals affected.

Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Conditions

Understanding Mental Health

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as:

“A state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.”

“It is more than the absence of mental disorders. It exists on a complex continuum, which is experienced differently from one person to the next, with varying degrees of difficulty and distress and potentially very different social and clinical outcomes.”

Mental health is an essential aspect of a person’s overall well-being, which is a state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy. When they have good mental health, it helps them to cope with stressors and overcome life’s challenges. They are also more likely to look positively at themselves and others and have better relationships and success. Having good mental health is essential to a higher quality of life. Poor mental health has the opposite effect.

Despite millions of people being affected by mental health issues around the world, there are still common misconceptions, discrimination (negative treatment) and stigmas (negative attitudes) surrounding mental health. Here are some examples of common misconceptions, myths and stigmas:

  • It is hard to communicate with people with mental health conditions – some think that mental health is a barrier to communication, and those with a condition are generally difficult to talk to. Mental health conditions affect everyone differently, and while some may find it hard to talk to people, many do not.
  • It is obvious when someone has a mental health condition – it is not always possible to tell someone has a mental health issue, as they affect everyone differently. Some people may also ‘mask’ their mental health condition, which is where they hide or suppress their symptoms to blend in with others.
  • Some mental health conditions are self-inflicted – there are misconceptions that conditions, such as substance abuse and eating disorders, are self-inflicted, which is not the case. Numerous factors can influence someone’s mental health and result in various conditions.
  • People with mental health conditions are unpredictable and dangerous – a study by Crisp et al. (2000) found that survey respondents commonly perceived that people with schizophrenia, alcoholism and drug addiction were dangerous and unpredictable. However, there is no significant link between common mental health conditions and violence.
  • People with mental health problems cannot work – some may think that someone with a mental health condition cannot cope with work or may have more time off, which is not the case. Many people with a mental health condition have successful careers. If someone has a disability because of their mental health condition, they are legally protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010, and employers should make reasonable adjustments.

Further myths and misconceptions:

How a person is affected by a mental health condition and their symptoms will differ between individuals. For example, one person may have short-lived anxiety because of substantial stressors, e.g. divorce, and can still do some of their daily activities; another may have disabling anxiety where they are afraid to leave their house. Some people may recover fully with the appropriate treatment and support; others may require ongoing interventions and management.

Mental health conditions are on a sort of spectrum and can range from mild to severe. According to NICE, people experience different levels of mental health problems, for example:

  • Mild – a person has a small number of symptoms, and their mental health condition has a limited effect on their daily lives, e.g. mild bipolar (cyclothymia).
  • Moderate – a person has more symptoms, and their mental health condition can make their daily life more difficult than usual, e.g. moderate depression or anxiety.
  • Severe – a person has many symptoms, and their mental health condition can make their daily life extremely difficult. According to the NHS, some examples of severe mental health problems can include psychosis, bipolar disorder, personality disorders and eating disorders.
Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Conditions

Common Mental Health Conditions

There are over 200 forms of mental health illnesses, including psychological disabilities, mental disorders and other mental states. Some common mental health conditions include anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild, moderate or severe (NHS).  In the UK, over 8 million people will be living with an anxiety disorder at any one time (Mental Health UK). People can experience anxiety in various ways, and there are different anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder– a person experiences anxiety about various things in their everyday lives.
  • Panic disorder– a person has regular panic attacks with no clear triggers or causes.
  • Phobias– a person experiences extreme fear or anxiety that is triggered by specific objects or situations, e.g. arachnophobia (fear of spiders).
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)– a person develops anxiety after experiencing something they found traumatic.
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)– a person’s anxiety is triggered by social situations.

The signs and symptoms will depend on the type of anxiety disorder and can affect a person physically, mentally and behaviourally, for example:

  • Physically, e.g. heart palpitations, sweating, headaches, shaking, dizziness, lightheadedness, breathlessness, chest pain, etc..
  • Mentally, e.g. restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, sleep trouble, worry, tearfulness, fatigue, etc.
  • Behaviourally, e.g. neglecting self-care, relationship issues, avoidance, compulsions, lack of enjoyment, etc.

The triggers for anxiety depend on each person but can include past or childhood experiences, current life problems, other physical and mental health problems, and drugs, alcohol and medication (Mind).

Further information on anxiety:

Bipolar disorder

1.3 million (one in fifty) people in the UK have bipolar, and it is one of the most common long-term mental health conditions (Bipolar UK). It is where a person can experience extreme changes in moods, such as:

  • Mania – the person is euphoric, feels high and overactive.
  • Depression – the person feels extremely low and lethargic.

The symptoms will depend on whether a person is experiencing an episode of depression or mania. The NHS has a list of symptoms of mania and depression here.

People living with bipolar can quickly change from one mood to the other, which is known as rapid cycling, and others may experience mixed states, where the symptoms of depression and mania combine. There may also be periods where they may have normal moods between episodes.

Some may have a mild form of bipolar, known as cyclothymia, which can be tricky to identify, diagnose and treat as the symptoms are usually mild, and those with it may not think there is anything wrong or want to seek help.

The cause of bipolar is currently unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of physical, environmental and social factors. People’s symptoms are often triggered by a stressful situation or circumstance (NHS).

Further information on bipolar disorder:

Depression 

Depression is a mental health condition that causes low mood, and it is one of the most common in the UK that can affect people from all backgrounds, ages and genders. According to Priory, 280 million people globally have depression. In England, 4-10% of people will experience the condition in their lifetime (Mental Health Foundation).

People with depression will experience various symptoms, which depend on their age, type and severity. Some examples of symptoms may include:

  • Persistent sadness and low mood.
  • Hopelessness and helplessness.
  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Fatigue.
  • Irritability.
  • Appetite changes.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Tearful.
  • Feeling guilty.
  • Thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
  • Physical and social symptoms.

Symptoms can differ between adults and children. The NHS has a list of symptoms: Depression in adults and Depression in children and young people.

Depression can be chronic and last a long time and can also keep returning. It can have a significant impact on people’s lives. If a person has a severe condition, they may also have symptoms of psychosis.

There is no single cause of depression and various reasons why it can occur. There are also numerous triggers, such as a stressful life event, e.g. bereavement, job loss or divorce, personality, family history, pregnancy and giving birth, menopause, loneliness and illness (NHS).

Further information on depression:

Eating disorders

When a person has an eating disorder, they may develop unhealthy eating behaviours and use food to cope with their feelings and stressful situations. While anyone can be diagnosed with an eating disorder, it is more common in teenagers and young adults. According to Beat Eating Disorders, around 1.25 million people have an eating disorder in the UK.

Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating disorder:

Anorexia nervosa (anorexia) – a person eats insufficient food, exercises excessively, or both. There are many symptoms of anorexia, and the NHS has a list here.

Bulimia – a person is unable to control the amount they eat and then take extreme actions to avoid gaining weight, such as:

  • Binge eating, i.e. eating lots of food in a short period of time.
  • Purging, i.e. making themselves vomit to rid their body of extra food.
  • Taking laxatives or diuretics.
  • Fasting or exercising excessively.

Binge eating disorder (BED) – a person eats huge portions of food until they feel uncomfortably full. Their mental health condition makes them want to overeat regularly.

Eating disorders can be triggered by a combination of psychological, environmental and genetic factors, e.g. stress, bullying and family history (Mental Health UK). They can lead to numerous mental, physical and behavioural problems. Over time, and if left untreated, they can cause physical and mental health complications, such as organ damage and failure, cancer, cognitive decline, self-harm and suicide.

Further information on eating disorders:

Schizophrenia 

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition that relates to psychosis. It affects the brain and how someone’s mind functions. According to Living With Schizophrenia, it affects approximately 1 in 100 of the population, and almost a quarter of a million people are being treated for this condition.

People with schizophrenia may experience the following symptoms:

  • Delusions, i.e. unusual beliefs that are not reality-based.
  • Hallucinations, e.g. seeing or hearing things that do not exist.
  • Avoiding people, including family and friends.
  • Feeling disconnected from the emotions or feelings.
  • Losing interest in everyday activities.
  • A lack of self-care and not looking after themselves, e.g. neglecting their personal hygiene.

There is a misconception that people with schizophrenia have a split personality and are violent, but this is not the case (NHS).

It is currently unknown as to what exactly causes schizophrenia, but it may be a combination of genetic, personal and environmental factors (Mind). Things that cause schizophrenia to develop in those who are at risk are known as triggers, and some potential ones for this condition include:

  • Stressful life events, e.g. divorce, bereavement, job loss, relationship breakdown and abuse.
  • Drug abuse, e.g. cannabis, cocaine, LSD or amphetamines.

Further information on Schizophrenia:

It is essential to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions early to get the correct diagnosis, intervention, treatment, help and support. Delays in getting help can lead to worsening symptoms and individuals experiencing mental health crises, where they could come to harm.

The NHS has further examples of mental health conditions on their website here.

Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Conditions

Factors Influencing Mental Health

A combination of many factors, including biological, psychological, social, and environmental, can influence mental health.

Biological factors – these influence a person’s functioning and behaviours and can include:

  • Physical health– how a person is physically can impact their mental health, e.g. if they have a chronic health condition that affects their quality of life.
  • Genetics– some people’s genetics make them susceptible to mental health conditions.
  • Diet– what a person eats and drinks can affect mood and brain function.
  • Sleep– if a person does not get sufficient and good quality sleep, it can affect their mental well-being.
  • Age– at various stages of life, people will experience specific mental health challenges, e.g. going through puberty or being at the end of life.

Psychological factors – these influence a person’s personality, thoughts, feelings and behaviours and can include:

  • Addictions – if a person has an addiction, such as substance abuse, gambling or sex, it can harm their mental well-being.
  • Beliefs– people’s mental health can be shaped by their beliefs, e.g. ideological and religious.
  • Perception– how someone sees themselves, others and the world can impact their mental health.
  • Mental health diagnoses– if a person is diagnosed with a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression, it can impact their mental well-being.

Social factors – these are conditions under which people are born, live, work, and age (Kothe, 2020) and include influences from social situations. They can include:

  • Finances – if a person is financially unstable and in debt or poverty, it can impact their mental well-being.
  • Family– support, healthy dynamics, and good communication are essential for mental well-being.
  • Culture– a person’s background and culture can influence coping mechanisms and mental health norms.
  • Relationships– if a person has poor relationships, social connections and conflicts, it can negatively impact their mental health.
  • Work– getting a work-life balance and having job satisfaction is important for a person’s mental health. Work-related stress can have negative effects.
  • Housing – having a place to call home is important for a person’s well-being. Homelessness and poor housing can lead to poor mental health.
  • Stigma and discrimination– people can be affected by poor attitudes and actions from others.
  • Social isolation– loneliness can significantly impact a person and lead to mental health challenges.
  • Crime levels– if a person lives in a high crime area and/or is a victim of crime, it can negatively impact their mental health.

Environmental factors – these are external influences from  the surrounding environment and can include:

  • Home environment– if a person’s surroundings are cluttered, unclean and disorganised, it can impact their mental health.
  • Sensory elements– temperature, lighting, noise, sights and smells can affect mental well-being, e.g. if a person is regularly exposed to noise, it can result in poor mental health.
  • Familiarity– a person’s environment can trigger positive or negative emotions or memories.

As a combination of factors can influence a person’s mental health, a holistic approach is required, where a person is put at the centre of their care and treatment rather than focusing solely on their diagnosis and symptoms. Holistic approaches to mental health care are crucial as they:

  • Provide personalised care that meets a person’s unique needs, circumstances and wishes.
  • Try to identify the root causes of a person’s mental health problems rather than just trying to treat their symptoms.
  • Recognise that mental health is influenced by various factors, such as employment, housing and relationships, which can help integrate care and better meet people’s needs.
  • Can save money in the long run if it reduces the need for medications, hospitalisation and ongoing care and support.
  • Make it easier for people to access treatment in their communities, making it more likely they will seek help and support, which can improve their outcomes and quality of life.

Signs and Symptoms

The exact signs and symptoms someone will experience will depend on the type of mental health condition and its severity. Some examples of common signs and symptoms that can indicate that someone has a mental health condition are (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Feeling unhappy or sad.
  • Helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Difficulty in coping with stress.
  • Low mood or extreme mood changes.
  • Feeling worried or prolonged anxiety.
  • Difficulty in understanding and relating to others.
  • Lack of sleep or sleeping too much.
  • Feeling worthless.
  • Extreme guilt.
  • Emotional outbursts, e.g. anger or euphoria.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Confusion.
  • Becoming withdrawn or isolated.
  • Appetite changes.
  • Substance abuse, e.g. alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

The signs and symptoms of various mental health conditions can crossover, and there may also be other reasons, e.g. a lack of appetite or confusion may be due to a physical health issue.

It is important to recognise the warning signs of a mental health condition in oneself and others. The following questions may help:

  • Have eating habits changed?
  • Is there a change in sleeping patterns, e.g. sleeping more?
  • Quiet or withdrawn?
  • Has the behaviour been going on for a while?
  • Are there signs of rapid mood changes, agitation, tearfulness, a lack of emotion or unusual behaviour?
  • Is there an increase in alcohol consumption, smoking or other substances?
  • Are there changes at home, school, work?

Recognising the common signs and symptoms of mental health conditions is essential for early diagnosis, intervention, treatment and support. It can help to prevent a person’s conditioning from worsening and improve their symptoms to reduce the impacts on their everyday life. If someone is showing the signs of a mental health condition, they should seek professional help for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Conditions

Stigma Reduction and Advocacy

According to the Mental Health Foundation, almost nine out of ten people with mental health problems have been negatively affected by stigma and discrimination. Stigma can have harmful effects on individuals with mental health conditions and serious consequences, such as:

  • Social discrimination– people with mental health conditions can face disparities and limitations when accessing social, education and housing opportunities.
  • Loneliness and social isolation– people with mental health conditions can withdraw because they fear being judged or discriminated against. Their mental well-being can be further affected by loneliness and isolation.
  • Harassment, abuse and physical violence– discrimination and stigma can result in people with mental health conditions being subjected to mental or physical harassment, abuse and physical violence. It can lead to trauma and worsening mental health.
  • Employment issues– stigma can affect people’s employment opportunities and career advancement. They may not get jobs or lose jobs because of discrimination, which can result in financial insecurity.
  • Reluctance to seek help– if people feel like they will be judged or discriminated against, they are less likely to seek help or treatment, which can worsen their condition and impact their recovery.

Overall, stigma and discrimination can make people’s mental health conditions worse, which can affect their well-being and reduce their quality of life. Therefore, it is vital to find ways to reduce stigma and promote acceptance and understanding to help and support those with mental health conditions. Some examples of strategies to achieve this include:

  • Policy and legislation sometimes, it requires collaborative work with policymakers, healthcare providers, and community organisations to create comprehensive strategies.
  • Education– there are many misconceptions and myths surrounding mental health, so educating people, making them aware of the facts and having open conversations can help combat stigma, e.g. awareness campaigns, training, community events, school programs and workshops.
  • Sharing stories – often, humanising an issue can reduce stigma. People with mental health conditions could share their personal stories, experiences and challenges. Mind has people’s stories on their websites (Your Stories).
  • Challenging stigma– if people challenge mental health stigma or discrimination when it occurs, it can help people realise the impacts it can have.
  • Training– whether in the workplace, service provision, healthcare or the community, providing people with training on what stigma is, how it affects people and how to challenge it can help to address stigma and enhance compassion and empathy.
  • Charities, peer support and community help– many charities, such as Mind, specialise in mental health and provide awareness to increase understanding and support to those with a condition.

Advocacy also has a significant role in reducing stigma, and it is where people with mental health problems get support from an organisation or another person to help them articulate their views and choices and stand up for their rights (Mind). It raises awareness, can influence policy changes and ensure mental health is on the Government’s agenda. It can also drive a culture change and reduce stigma in an organisation, which can help those with mental health problems remain in employment.

Advocacy can help people learn more about mental health and gain knowledge (mental health literacy), which is also crucial to reducing stigma. It can foster understanding and enable people to recognise when they and others are showing signs of mental health conditions. It can increase awareness about the challenges people face and that mental health conditions can affect anyone, and they are not alone. Mental health advocacy can create a more understanding, empathetic and compassionate society.

Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Conditions

Support and Treatment Options

Mental health is complex, so the support and treatment a person requires will depend on their condition and its severity and risks. Various treatment options are available, and here are some examples:

Medication

  • Many types of psychiatric medication exist to treat mental health conditions. However, they are not a cure; they help people with their symptoms.
  • What drug(s) a doctor prescribes will depend on a person’s diagnosis. Some examples of drugs include antidepressants, antipsychotics, sleeping pills, minor tranquillisers and mood stabilisers.
  • Mind has further information on the type of drugs available here.

Talking therapies and counselling

Complementary and alternative therapies

  • These are therapies that fall outside of conventional medicine. Complementary therapies are those that are used alongside other treatments. Alternative therapies are those that replace treatments offered by doctors. Some examples of complementary and alternative therapies include meditation, reflexology, herbal supplements, homoeopathy, acupuncture, massage, hypnotherapy, etc.
  • Further information is on Mind:
  • What are complementary and alternative therapies?
  • Types of complementary and alternative therapies.

Whatever care, treatment and support a person receives, it is paramount that it is person-centred, which means that it meets their needs and wishes and is personalised to them. Mental health conditions affect people differently, and there is no ‘one size fits all approach’. We are complex beings with various physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual needs. Therefore, treatment plans should be individualised and holistic, i.e. looking at the whole person rather than just their diagnosis and symptoms.

If a person suspects they have a mental health condition or are showing signs, they need to get the help and support they need. There are several options for accessing support services and seeking help, such as:

The NHS – mental health services are provided by the NHS free of charge. Individuals can first talk to the GP, who may refer them to specific mental health services. In some cases, they may also be able to self-refer to talking therapies so they do not have to speak to a GP first. They can find an NHS talking therapies service here.

Mind – individuals can access the charity Mind’s supported self-help, a free, 6-week guided programme, and they call regularly to provide support. It does not require a GP referral. Other charities offer support services, such as (this list is not exhaustive):

Private therapy or counselling – if an individual feels they cannot get help and support from the NHS, they could seek therapy or counselling privately. However, there is a cost, and it is usually expensive. There may be lower-cost options, such as online or over the telephone, but individuals need to check therapists and counsellors are qualified. Mind has further information on this and also some other support services here.

Crises and emergency services – if individuals have a mental health crisis or an emergency, they should seek immediate help. They can:

  • Go to Accident and Emergency or phone 999 if their life is at risk.
  • Contact their GP for an emergency appointment.
  • Contact a local NHS urgent mental health helpline in England. Further information is here. There are also other crisis helplines and listening services: Mind – helplines and listening services.

Support groups – meeting and talking with others who understand what it is like living with a mental health condition can help boost an individual’s mood and well-being. Charities, such as Mind, have local groups. There may also be information about groups on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Conditions

Self-Care and Coping Strategies

Managing mental health conditions is key to ensuring a person lives well and has the best possible quality of life. Seeking external help and support is only a part of the story. People with mental health conditions also have a role in mental health management, and adopting self-care and coping strategies is essential.

Self-care involves encompassing practices and undertaking activities that contribute to a person’s health and happiness. People with mental health conditions should practice self-care and prioritise their own mental well-being. They should also find coping strategies to help them cope with the demands of various situations they may find stressful.

There are numerous strategies and techniques that individuals can adopt to manage their mental health conditions, such as:

  • Be aware of their mental health – they should keep track of their symptoms, recognise the warning signs and know their triggers. Knowledge is power, so awareness of one’s mental health can empower them to take control.
  • Make connections – feeling connected to others is crucial and can boost confidence, self-esteem and mental well-being. Individuals could get in touch with their family or friends or make connections in other ways, e.g. support groups, local clubs, community events, etc.
  • Meditation – practising meditation can help reduce stress levels, boost mood and ease anxiety. There are various types of meditation, and the NHS has a video on how to meditate for beginners here.
  • Mindfulness – paying attention to the present moment and being aware of thoughts and feelings can help to enhance mental well-being. The NHS has information on how to get started with mindfulness here.
  • Relaxation exercises and stress reduction techniques – as well as meditation and mindfulness, individuals could try various exercises and techniques, such as yoga, qigong, tai chi, journaling, guided imagery, breathing techniques, forest bathing, drawing and painting, getting out in nature, gardening, spending time with animals, etc.

Tips for building resilience and maintaining mental well-being:

Individuals should:

  • Be kind to themselves and practice self-compassion, which can involve taking breaks to engage in enjoyable activities and celebrating achievements, no matter how small. They must not be harsh on themselves and find time to relax.
  • Find a sense of purpose and meaning in life is critical to good mental health. They could find work, hobbies and activities that align with their passions and values. Taking action to help others in the community or volunteering for a charity may also be beneficial.
  • Try making general lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking, reducing caffeine, cutting down on alcohol, drinking more water, eating healthily, getting good sleep and exercising regularly. These can all boost mood and contribute to health, happiness and well-being.
  • Try to be organised and manage time effectively, e.g. make lists, break down tasks into smaller goals, try not to take too much on, learn to say no and ask for help when needed.
  • Identify the triggers that cause stress to be better prepared and find ways to deal with the situation themselves or with someone else’s help.
  • Not be afraid to ask for help when needed and seek social support from family, friends, colleagues, peers, health and social care professionals and support groups.

The NHS has further tips, guides, tools and activities here.

Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Conditions

Supporting Others

Mental health challenges can affect anyone at any time, so understanding how to support someone going through this can help them enormously. Whether the person is a friend, family member, colleague or fellow student, there are ways to help them:

  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of mental health problems – can help those giving support understand how they can help the person. It does not mean making a diagnosis or directly asking someone whether they have a mental health problem, but knowing how to respond can make a significant difference.
  • Talk to the person about mental health – and find out what challenges they face and what help and support they need. The Mental Health Foundation has some tips for talking about mental health here. Perhaps mention that their mood or behaviour has changed and raise concerns without being critical. Ask if they want to talk about it.
  • Actively listen to the person – to demonstrate listening and understanding and not just hearing is important, as it makes the person feel listened to and validated. Active listening is a communication skill that uses verbal and non-verbal communication to show the person that you are paying full attention to what they are saying without judgment. It is essential not to downplay what they are going through, e.g. “you don’t seem depressed”.
  • Be empathetic, compassionate and non-judgmental – as it is not easy for someone to open up about mental health challenges. Empathy does not mean sympathy but looking at things from the other person’s perspective and putting yourself in their shoes. It shows the person you care about and understand their struggles, which can foster a safe space in which they can feel comfortable to communicate.
  • Be compassionate and non-judgmental – means actively showing kindness and warmth, treating them with dignity and respect and recognising their struggles. It also means getting actively involved to improve their well-being. People with mental health conditions can fear judgment. Therefore, avoid assumptions, be non-judgmental and demonstrate acceptance.
  • Signpost to other means of support – if the person does not feel like talking about their issues, tell them where they can access support services. Also, encourage them to see a GP and offer to go with them.

Being supportive of those with mental health issues can help build trust, foster positive relationships and promote their mental health and well-being. If there is a serious risk of harm to the person, e.g. self-harm or suicide, it is crucial to get emergency assistance, i.e. phone 999 or an emergency GP appointment.

It is not only difficult for those living with mental health conditions, but it can also be challenging for families and caregivers. It is vital for their mental health and well-being to also seek support when needed. Here are some examples of resources for caregivers and support networks:

Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Conditions

Conclusion

Mental health conditions are common, and there are millions of people living with various types, such as anxiety and depression. Having a mental health problem can significantly impact people’s well-being and affect their families and caregivers. There is also a significant societal cost, as most people will use the NHS, which is state-funded healthcare.

Mental health conditions affect people differently. Some may have a short-term or long-term condition, and their symptoms may be mild, moderate or severe. However long the duration and severity, it can impact the quality of sufferers’ lives and can even be life-threatening in some cases if they do not receive prompt treatment and support.

There is still stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health, so it is crucial to reduce this by increasing awareness and understanding of the difficulties surrounding mental health and the challenges when it does occur. Reducing stigma and discrimination will help those with mental health conditions seek the help and support they need without fear and judgment. It is essential to get early diagnoses to get person-centred and holistic treatment and to prevent symptoms from worsening.

Everyone should be encouraged to learn more about mental health, as it can affect anyone at any time. Increasing knowledge and advocacy for mental health awareness and support in communities can empower people to improve their mental well-being and overall quality of life.

Understanding and Supporting Mental Health Conditions
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