Below is a very simplified and general explanation of mental health. You are welcome to contact us to discuss what you are experiencing and what we can do to help.
When people talk about mental health they usually try to define it by saying something about psychological wellbeing or emotional wellbeing. Sometimes they will talk about wellness and/or the absence of illness. Some people think mental health is all about being happy but mental health services focus on people experiencing a lot of different emotions so this seems too simple.
We think of mental health as being about what we think, what we feel and what we do given our current circumstances and past experiences.
Just as there is a continuum of physical health, so there is a continuum of mental health. We may be feeling physically on top form or we may be very ill and in hospital but there are a lot of things in between. We may have a bit of a cold and therefore not be on top form but not yet ready to go to the doctor or have time off. We may be thinking about going to the doctor or needing time off or we may be actually doing these things. The same is true with mental health. We may be on top form or very ill in hospital. We may just have a bit of worry that we are doing our best to deal with. We may be thinking about going to the doctor or having time off or we may be doing these things.
In general we think there are three things that tell us when mental health is a problem. These are:
- Frequency – if you are experiencing something more often than others in the same situation would then there may be a problem. So if you are anxious more times in the week than someone else or feeling down more times in the day than another person would.
- Intensity – if you feel things more intensely than other people in the same situation would then there may be a problem. So when you are angry, you are more angry than someone else would be or when you are more afraid, you are more afraid than someone else would be in that situation.
- Impact – if what you are experiencing is stopping you from doing the things you want to be doing, enjoying the things you usually would or if it is upsetting other people then there may be a problem.
Also for there to be a significant mental health difficulty, these things generally have to have been happening for some time, not just once or twice or even a few times.
Interventions for mental health issues need to take account of all of these things and many others, such as what we have tried already, what we have experienced in the past and so on. It is important, then, that mental health interventions are carried out by qualified professionals. We have unfortunately often seen situations where people have, with the best of intentions, sought out support which has been unsuccessful and left them feeling like the problem is even worse or unfixable. Another difficulty with this is of course the time it takes as the person is left feeling they have had the difficulty for a long time and it therefore must be severe whereas the right treatment in a timely way could potentially have avoided this.