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How common are mental health problems?

Mental health problems are common. Up to one in four people will experience poor mental health at some point in their lives. They could be caused by stressful events such as losing a job, bereavement, or money issues. These feelings can often be intense but are often temporary. With the right support and help people make good, positive steps towards recovery (Rethink Mental Illness, 2020). Some people will experience more serious problems with their mental health. These types of mental health problems often occur as gradual changes that a person may not notice or realise. People might start to behave differently, or start having thoughts or beliefs they didn’t have before (Rethink Mental Illness, 2020).

What are the signs that things may not be right?

Most people will feel low, anxious, or irritable at some point in their lives. But if you have several symptoms at the same time, this could mean you have a mental illness, especially if you have had them for some time (Rethink Mental Illness, 2020). If your day-to-day life is getting worse because of these symptoms, then this could also be a sign that something is not right. The following symptoms could be signs of mental health problems (Rethink Mental Illness, 2020).

  • Being anxious and irritable.
  • Having a low mood for a long time.
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate or remember things.
  • Sleeping less or too much.
  • Changes in your mood.
  • Finding it difficult to manage everyday life, for example, preparing food and washing regularly.
  • Feeling teary.
  • Becoming suspicious and paranoid.
  • Becoming isolated and withdrawn.
  • Having suicidal thoughts.
  • Believing that your family and friends want to do you harm.
  • Believing that people or organisations are out to get you.
  • Experiencing hallucinations. This means sensing things that other people do not, this can include seeing and hearing things.
  • Believing that you have special powers or are on a mission.

Where can I get help?

If you are worried about your mental health, you should try and seek help early. The first step is to visit your GP and explain how you feel (Rethink Mental Illness, 2020).

GPs are experienced in dealing with mental health problems, so try to be open about how you have been feeling (Rethink Mental Illness, 2020).
You might find it hard to discuss personal problems, or struggle to find the words to explain how you feel. If you do struggle you might find it helpful to try the following.

  • Ask your GP for a double appointment. This will give you more time to talk to the doctor.
  • Take a friend or relative to the appointment. They can help you to explain things to the GP.
  • Write down what you would like to say before the appointment. You could also make notes of your symptoms and questions you would like to ask.

Social Care

Your mental health problems may mean that you have social care needs. Social care needs can include needing help with:

  • getting out of the house,
  • preparing meals or going shopping,
  • managing your money, and
  • having social contact with friends and family.

You can ask your local authority for a social care assessment to assess your needs. Your local authority must do this if you may need care and support. The assessment could be face-to-face or online (Rethink Mental Illness, 2020).

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