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Mental Health (latest draft page July 2020)

Key Messages (Summer 2020)

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Setting the scene

Mental health problems often begin in childhood: it is known that 50% of mental illness in adult life (excluding dementia) starts before age 15 and 75% starts by age 18. Therefore tackling problems when they first emerge is both important and cost effective. Early treatment is important as mental health problems in childhood have been shown to be associated with poor outcomes in adulthood.

Mental illness has wide-reaching effects on people’s education, employment, physical health, and relationships. Although many effective mental health interventions are available, people often do not seek the help they need due to the various types of stigma that still surround mental illness. Hence the importance of widely available self-help information and anti-stigma interventions within prevention programmes, as well as taking action to reduce risk factors.

The World Health Organization (2005) defines mental health as “a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.

As in the WHO’s definition of health (“a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”), mental health is not just the absence of illness, but requires an additional positive ‘something’ to be present in the individual. Thus, the concept of an individual’s mental health state is increasingly being uncoupled from mental illness. 

Mental health and wellbeing consists of emotional wellbeing or happiness, psychological wellbeing and social wellbeing. 

Psychological wellbeing is sometimes defined as consisting of six dimensions: positive evaluation of oneself and one’s past life (self-acceptance); a sense of continued growth and development as a person; the belief that one’s life is purposeful and meaningful; the possession of quality relations with others; the capacity to manage effectively one’s life and surrounding world (environmental mastery); and a sense of self-determination (autonomy). 

Social wellbeing has been defined as “individuals’ perceptions of the quality of their relationships with other people, their neighbourhoods, and their communities” with social wellbeing being made up of various dimensions including social integration, social acceptance, social contribution, social actualization and social coherence.

Life affects us all differently. We all go through difficult times, and negative emotions can be a healthy reaction to the challenges we face. But for many of us, things can become more serious, and each year as many as 1 in 4 of us experiences a mental health problem.

Being aware of what can affect our mental health can make it easier to understand when we, or someone we care about, are struggling, and helps us think about what we can do to improve things or where to get support.

Some things that affect our mental health include our:

  • upbringing and environment, which shapes our brain development when young and opportunities throughout life
  • experiences, like our relationships, how we are treated, our financial situation, work, where we live, physical health, life events and the changes we go through
  • genes and temperament, which may make some of us more likely to develop certain kinds of mental health problems when combined with our life experiences

All of these influence how we think about, make sense of and respond to challenges and opportunities in life.

How we think about ourselves, the people and the world around us and the future, is a result of the things that happen to us. But it also has profound implications for our mental health.

There are many situations or life events that can affect us and make us feel distressed or less able to cope. We all respond to life's challenges differently – there's no single "right way" to react.

It may be everyday events, one-off experiences or several things building up. Even experiences that are positive can be difficult to cope with sometimes.

How we feel is often a completely natural reaction to challenges. But for some of us, these feelings can become more difficult to manage, especially if they do not go away – after a while, what we're experiencing affects our daily life.

Some things that affect our mental wellbeing include:

  • personal life and relationships
  • money, work or housing
  • life changes
  • health issues
  • traumatic life events
  • smoking, alcohol, gambling and drug misuse

This visual also considers the impact of Covid-19 on our mental health

 

 

There is now accepted understanding and recognition that mental health is more than the absence of mental illness and that good mental health underpins everything we do, how we think, feel, act and behave. It is an essential and precious individual, family, community and business resource that needs to be protected and enhanced.

People with higher levels of good mental health and wellbeing have better general health use health services less, live longer, have better educational outcomes, are more likely to undertake healthier lifestyles including reduced smoking and harmful levels of drinking, are more productive at work, take less time off sick, have higher income, have stronger social relationships and are more social.

Higher levels of mental wellbeing are also associated with reduced levels of mental ill-health in adulthood. 


Coronavirus (Covid-19) and mental health 

If you’re worried about the impact of coronavirus on your mental health, you are not alone. The COVID-19 pandemic is a new and uncertain time for all of us, so it is only natural that it will affect our mental health in different ways. However you are feeling right now is valid. With the right help and support, we can all get through this. 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is quite literally having an impact on everyone’s daily lives, as the government and the NHS take necessary steps to manage the outbreak, reduce transmission and treat those who need medical attention.

So any data, information and insight that the following Public Health Profiles and other sources present will not yet be able to reflect the true gravity and depth of impact of this virus, and the changes we are subsequently encountering.

This page, its content and information across the site will continue to change over the coming months to reflect this new reality and the resulting impact on our mental health. If you are aware of content that could enhance this resource - then please do get in touch.

Facts & Figures: Local and National

Introduce next section 

 

Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19) (June 2020)

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is having an impact on everyone’s daily lives, as the government and the NHS take necessary steps to manage the outbreak, reduce transmission and treat those who need medical attention.

It may be difficult, but by following government guidance to stay alert, you are helping to protect yourself, your family, the NHS and your community.

During this time, you may be bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also feel low, worried, anxious, or be concerned about your health or that of those close to you. These are all common reactions to the difficult situation we face. Everyone reacts differently to events and changes in the way that we think, feel and behave vary between different people and over time. It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body.

This Government guidance will offer you support and advice to consider.

 

 

Please note - Mental Health content will continue to be developed over time - please keep in touch and return for updates and added content