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.
Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems. They may also help prevent some problems from developing or getting worse. Here are some tips for looking after yourself that you might find helpful.
If these work well for you then you may find you don't need any formal treatment. However, it’s important to remember that there is unlikely to be an instant solution. Recovering from a mental health problem is likely to take time, energy and work.
Our pages on improving and maintaining your mental wellbeing have more self-care suggestions and tips.
"I really have to remember to be kind to myself and actually try to function when I'm unwell. Otherwise things spiral even faster."
Feeling connected to other people is important. It can help you to feel valued and confident about yourself, and can give you a different perspective on things. If you can, try to spend some time connecting with friends and family – even a text or phone call can make a difference.
If you don't have supportive friends and family around you and are feeling isolated, there are other ways you can make connections. For example, you could try going to community events where you might have some interests or experiences in common with other people there, or joining a group like a local book club or sports team.
"I try to have a friendly conversation everyday, even if it is online with distant friends."
When you experience a mental health problem it can feel like no one understands. Peer support brings together people who’ve had similar experiences to support each other. This can offer many benefits, such as:
"Things I was ashamed of and felt guilt for were common in the group. It was a profound and powerful experience."
There are various techniques and therapies you can safely practise on your own. For example:
These activities can be particularly valuable if you don't want to try medication or talking treatments, or you're having to wait a while for treatment on the NHS.
"I do ecotherapy to get sunlight onto my skin and into my mind. It shines light through the dark fog of depression."
Taking steps to look after your physical health can help you manage your mental health too.
Rest when you can. This can help you have the energy to cope with difficult feelings and experiences.
Regular exercise doesn't have to be very strenuous or sporty to be effective – to start with you could try gentle exercise like going for a short walk, yoga or swimming. The important thing is to pick something you enjoy doing, so you're more likely to stick with it. If you're physically disabled, Disability Rights UK provides information about exercises you might be able to do. Alternatively, ask your doctor for advice.
While you might want to use drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings, in the long run they can make you feel a lot worse.
You can contact Turning Point for information and support to stop using drugs and alcohol.
When you're experiencing a mental health problem, it's easy for personal care to not feel like a priority.
But small everyday things, such as taking a shower and getting fully dressed, can make a big difference to how you feel.
What you eat, and when you eat, can make a big difference to how well you feel.
"I’m not the sporty type, but I love walking. It really lifts my mood."
If you have a diagnosis, or would like support in a specific area, try contacting a specialist organisation for help. For example:
This information was published in October 2017. We will revise it in 2020.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.