Mental health problems – an introduction

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.

How can I deal with stigma?

Unfortunately, not everyone understands mental health problems. Some people may have misconceptions about what certain diagnoses mean. They may also use language you find dismissive, offensive or hurtful. This can be very upsetting – especially if someone who feels this way is a family member, colleague or a healthcare professional.

But it's important to remember that you aren't alone, and you don’t have to put up with people treating you badly. Here are some options for you to think about:

  • Show people reliable information to help them understand more about what your diagnosis really means. You can find reliable information in our pages on types of mental health problems.
  • Get more involved in your treatment. See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for guidance on having your say in your treatment, making your voice heard, and steps you can take if you're not happy with your care.
  • Contact an advocate. An advocate is someone who can support your choices and help you make your voice heard (see our pages on advocacy for more information).
  • Know your rights. Our pages on your legal rights provide information on your rights in a wide range of situations.
  • Talk about your experience. Sharing your story can help improve people's understanding and change their attitudes (see our blogs pages to read about other people's experiences, and find out how to blog for Mind).
  • Get involved in a campaign. Time to Change and Time to Change Wales organise national campaigns to end stigma and discrimination towards mental health problems. You can also look at our campaigns page for details of the different ways you can get involved with Mind.

How I challenged stigma

"I will work to fight mental health stigma until no one has to go through negative experiences like mine."

"I don’t choose or want to be psychotic any more than people choose or want any other types of ill health."

Are people with mental health problems dangerous?

Some people think there is an automatic link between mental health problems and being a danger to others. This is an idea that is reinforced by sensationalised stories in the media. However, the most common mental health problems have no significant link to violent behaviour.

The proportion of people living with a mental health problem who commit a violent crime is extremely small. There are lots of reasons someone might commit a violent crime, and factors such as drug and alcohol misuse are far more likely to be the cause of violent behaviour. But many people are still worried about talking about how they're feeling, or seeking help, because of the fear and stigma of being seen as dangerous.

It's important to remember that experiencing difficult thoughts, feelings and behaviours when you're unwell is common, and it's extremely unlikely to mean you may harm another person.

"The stigma of being violent and dangerous is the worst for me. I am a caring and empathetic soul who would do anything for the people I love."

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.

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