Explains what mental health problems are, what may cause them, and the many different kinds of help, treatment and support that are available. Also provides guidance on where to find more information, and tips for friends and family.
In many ways, mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it.
Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you're frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.
Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
"I now know that if I felt there was something wrong, it's because there was, but I didn't understand mental health fully... it's a spectrum and you should feel able to decide where and when you [are] on that spectrum."
This animation explains what mental health problems are and how they can affect us.
Experiencing a mental health problem is often upsetting, confusing and frightening – particularly at first. If you become unwell, you may feel that it's a sign of weakness, or that you are 'losing your mind'.
These fears are often reinforced by the negative (and often unrealistic) way that people experiencing mental health problems are shown on TV, in films and by the media. This may stop you from talking about your problems, or seeking help. This, in turn, is likely to increase your distress and sense of isolation.
However, in reality, mental health problems are a common human experience.
Most people know someone who has experienced a mental health problem. They can happen to all kinds of people from all walks of life. And it's likely that, when you find a combination of self-care, treatment and support that works for you, you will get better.
"It wasn't until I had a breakdown that I felt my condition was 'serious enough' to qualify as an issue. I could have got help much earlier but I didn't because of this – it's never too early to seek advice."
This information was published in October 2017. We will revise it in 2020.
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