Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. Mental health problems can affect anyone, and one in four of us will experience one in our lifetime.
Conditions, which can range from very mild to quite severe, can occur at any age, and many people have to cope with a mixture of different conditions.
Types of mental health problems
Mental health problems can take many different forms and affect people in different ways. Depression and anxiety are two of the most well-known, and it's common for people to experience both. Diseases such as dementia can generally develop in old age, whereas eating disorders are more common in young people.
There's no single cause of mental health problems and the reasons they develop are complex. Most people recover from mental health problems.
If you think someone has an urgent mental health problem, please use the mental health emergency resources.
If you're having issues with your mental health and wellbeing, your first stop should be your GP (family doctor). They will be familiar with your medical history, and can direct you to the best treatment or service. Don't feel worried about bringing it up - your GP is there to help with your mental health as well as physical health. GPs see people every day who are feeling anxious, depressed or who are having problems coping.
GPs can access a wide range of services including specialist mental health services.
If you don't already have one, you can search for a local GP to register with via the NHS website.
Advice and self-help information around mental health and wellbeing can be found be found online:
- The NHS offers free self-help leaflets on a range of topics, including anxiety, obsessions, hearing voices, and stress.
- Mind gives details of different mental health problems, including symptoms and treatments.
In mental health, recovery does not always refer to the process of complete recovery in the way that people may recover from a physical health problems. For many people, the concept of recovery is about staying in control of their life despite experiencing a mental health problem.
The guiding principle around recovery is the belief that it's possible for someone to live a meaningful life, even if their mental illness is serious. Looking at recovery as a journey rather than a destination allows for progress to be made in fits and starts, and, like life, has many ups and downs.
Recovery doesn't necessarily mean getting back to where you were before. The journey to recovery from mental health problems is just as much about the person as it is about the symptoms. It encourages optimism that even if someone has symptoms of mental ill health, they can still have control over their life.
Help in hospital
People who are admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act are entitled to help from an independent mental health advocate, and legal representation. Read more about independent advocacy services.
If you're in hospital but not detained under the Mental Health Act, you can access advocacy and advice services from:
- STAMP Revisited by calling 01642 837555
- NHS PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Services). You can search online for an NHS PALS service.
Discharge from hospital
When your hospital stay comes to an end, staff will organise a meeting to discuss the care you'll receive after you leave. It's important that you try to be as involved in this as possible, because it will give you more choice over the services you use. You can ask for an advocate to help you at the meeting.
Talking therapies are available to anyone who needs them. These include guided self-help, stress and mood management, and one-to-one Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Read more about local providers of talking therapies.
Support groups give you the chance to talk to other people who may be experiencing similar problems to you, and they can often suggest different ways of coping.
The mental health charity Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind can put you in touch with a range of support groups which may be able to help you. For more information, call 01642 257020.