The subject of mental health is broad, to say the least. As with physical health, it spans countless areas, practices, disorders and treatments. At centred, we’re always learning about the complex subject of mental health, but it would be impossible to cover every area here. So we’ve put together a brief and useful A-Z of some of the terms associated with mental health and wellbeing and what they mean.
It’s natural to feel anxious sometimes, but anxiety disorders can be serious mental illnesses. There is a wide range of anxiety disorders and they’re one of the most common forms of mental ill-health. Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, from an underlying sense of worry to full-blown panic attacks. But there are lots of very effective treatments too, so people living with anxiety can still live their lives to the full.
In the same way that we occasionally have days where we physically feel unwell, it’s common for people to have bad mental health days. These can be days when you feel stressed, anxious or low that leave you feeling that you can’t cope. It’s important to nurture mental health on these bad days – just as you would with a physical illness and don’t try to take on too much. There are lots of ways to help yourself on a bad day, including rest, taking exercise or talking to someone, but the most important thing is to be kind to yourself. And if you start to get these days regularly, you should ask for help.
A person with Bipolar disorder can experience extreme mood swings, these are usually classed as highs (mania) and lows (depression). As with any illness, the symptoms can range from mild in some people to dramatic in others. The disorder can cause people to behave irresponsibly, irrationally or even to have suicidal thoughts. It’s a fairly common disorder and usually affects people under the age of 40, although it can happen at any stage of life. Once diagnosed, there is a range of effective treatments available including self-help, therapy or medication. Finding the right treatment (or combination) can mean people with Bipolar disorder can get on with living full and happy lives.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for a wide range of mental disorders. It’s based on the principle of ‘retraining’ your brain and teaches people to replace negative and damaging thoughts with positive, more realistic thoughts that can leave people feeling happier and more able to cope.
Depression is a serious mood disorder that affects the way people behave, feel and think over long periods of time. People who are depressed often talk of feeling deep sadness, hopelessness and loss of interest in everyday events. Depression can affect anyone and people suffering from depression can have a wide range of symptoms, so talking to someone and getting a diagnosis is the important first step to recovery. Mental health professionals use a range of highly effective treatments to help people with depression to leave it behind and live happier lives.
Substance abuse and mental ill-health are inextricably linked and one can often trigger the other. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to experience mental health problems as the substances can trigger episodes. Many drugs can also worsen symptoms of mental health disorders and make recovery more difficult. If someone is suffering from drug addiction and mental ill-health, the path to recovery relies on treating both problems.
An eating disorder is a mental illness that stems from the way people think about food. A person with an eating disorder has an unhealthy mental relationship with food and this can mean anything from extreme dieting, binge eating or avoiding certain foods. With the right support and treatment, eating disorders and the associated mental health disorders can be managed and people experiencing them can look forward to healthier and happier futures.
Empowerment is at the heart of our recovery process at centred. We don’t believe in treating people like patients who need to follow doctors’ orders. By educating and supporting people, we can empower them to take steps to recovery themselves. We encourage the people we work with to make decisions that affect their future lives and through this, they feel stronger and more able to shape their own paths.
Our close relationships are one of the most important aspects of our daily lives and people who have happy and strong friendships and family ties can often cope better with stress and anxiety, giving them overall better mental health. Having someone close that you can trust to talk to can help diffuse negative thoughts and lead to a happier and healthier life.
There’s no doubt that your diet affects how you feel. Making positive lifestyle changes like eating more fresh and healthy food, staying hydrated and cutting down on alcohol can all contribute to a happier outlook and clearer head. Good food = good mood!
Grieving the loss of a loved one is always hard and it’s different for everyone. But for some people, the overwhelming emotions of the grieving process can trigger poor mental health. Understanding that your grief is natural and asking for help and support can stop this leading to more serious conditions.
Asking for help when you’re worried about your own mental health, or even for a friend or family member, isn’t easy for lots of people. It can be confusing and scary for a start and sometimes we don’t know what to say or what kind of help to ask for and what might happen if we do. But reaching out to others, whether it’s a medical professional, counsellor or friend is a giant step towards feeling better. There is always help available and voicing your concerns can put you on the path to finding it.
We believe that recovery from mental ill-health encompasses a person’s entire life, not just their mind. A holistic approach to recovery will take into account all aspects of life, including housing, social networks, employment, education, family, spirituality and physical health. It’s all about looking at the person, not their illness to find the best treatments to make them feel better.
Being hopeful is associated with having a more positive and more resilient outlook and is an important part of the recovery process. Having hope for the future can balance out negative feelings and thoughts and help people cope during difficult times. We can foster hope through strong family relationships and friendships or through counselling.
In recent years, many people have experienced social isolation and having little contact with other people and this can lead to loneliness and a deterioration in mental wellbeing. Feeling isolated can increase anxiety and takes away our ability to talk and interact with other people. However, connecting with people again can reverse the effects of isolation in many cases.
As we’ve already said, there are lots of types of anxiety, but a common trigger is the workplace. People can feel stressed or nervous about their job performance or interactions with colleagues. Meetings, presentations or travelling can cause extreme stress for many people and there is still a stigma about speaking up about anxiety in the workplace. Talking to a professional or trusted person can help people understand that theirs is a common issue and give them the tools they need to cope with it.
The power of kindness really came into its own during the pandemic when people felt isolated and scared and little acts of kindness made a big difference to our days. Kindness can have a hugely beneficial impact on our mental health, making us feel less anxious and more included. As well as small acts of kindness, imagine how much less stress and anxiety we’d encounter if schools, workplaces and communities were kinder places.
Loneliness is different from isolation in that you can feel lonely even if you are surrounded by other people. Loneliness and mental health problems are closely linked as some mental health disorders can lead to loneliness and feeling lonely can lead to poor mental health. There are a lot of services and community support available to help people who feel lonely and help is available online for people who are anxious about social contact.
Rapid and severe changes in mood can be caused by a number of factors, including hormonal upset or a change in circumstances. But they can also be a warning sign of a more serious mental health issue. If changes in mood are having a negative impact on someone’s life they should seek help. Successful treatments include talking therapy and lifestyle changes.
People who are more connected with nature are generally happier and have fewer mental health problems than people who are not. Spending time surrounded by nature is known to soothe and calm the mind, combatting stress and anxiety. If you’re having a bad mental health day, a walk in nature can leave you feeling much better.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a very damaging mental health condition where people experience obsessions (unwanted thoughts that won’t go away) and/or compulsions (repetitive behaviours) and often one can cause the other. It’s a fairly common mental disorder and people with OCD can feel like it is taking over their lives. As with other disorders, many effective treatments are available and it’s easy to find a local support group.
Psychosis is not in itself an illness, but a symptom of a mental or physical disorder. It can take many forms, but put simply, it is where a person loses contact with reality and experiences episodes where they can see, hear or believe things that aren’t real. Psychotic episodes can be linked to hormonal changes and are different for every person who experiences them. Treatment always depends on personal circumstances, but successful treatments include psychotherapy or medication.
Panic attacks are a very common symptom for people who are experiencing a mental illness, they are usually linked to anxiety. While many people suffer from panic attacks, they often find it hard to talk about them and this can make them all the more terrifying. They are simply a physical reaction to intense fear. Panic attacks can often be triggered by social situations and while symptoms are very unpleasant, they’re not actually harmful to the person suffering them. When a person has a panic attack, the anxiety of having another one can often trigger it and this can lead to a panic disorder. If you have recurring panic attacks, your GP can help by referring you for CBT sessions or prescribing medication.
Mutual support between people who have shared experiences plays a vital role in recovery from mental ill-health. There are many different types of peer support available and it can be very successful in helping people to move on from mental disorders by providing emotional or practical support and a sense of belonging.
Person-centred treatments and care for people dealing with mental health problems mean treating each person as an individual and understanding their entire lifestyle in order to find the next and most effective treatment for them. At Centred, we understand that there are multiple pathways to recovery based on an individual’s unique strengths as well as their needs, preferences, experiences, and cultural background.
When we are dealing with periods of mental ill-health, quiet time can help relieve stress and enable us to focus on more positive thoughts. Meditation and mindfulness are great practices to promote happier and healthier minds, but even just some time sitting quietly can have huge benefits.
Recovery from mental ill-health can mean many different things and each person’s journey to recovery is unique. For some, recovery means an end to the problems they are experiencing, but for many, it is an ongoing improvement in their lives. At Centred, we follow a recovery-focused approach to mental health treatment. This means we work towards improving the quality of each person’s life experiences whatever their background or support needs. We believe that everyone has the ability to make changes that can help them live happier, more rewarding and fulfilling lives.
In order to start down the path to recovery, it’s essential that we remove the discrimination and stigma associated with mental illness. Every person deserves respect from others, but they also need to practice self-respect. At Centred, we know that self-acceptance and regaining belief in yourself are vital aspects to recovery from mental ill-health.
Schizophrenia is a serious, long-term mental health condition that can lead people to believe, see or hear things that are not real. There are many symptoms of schizophrenia such as hallucinations or delusions and while these can be very damaging to a person’s life, it’s possible to live a full and happy life with schizophrenia with the right treatment.
It’s a sad fact that a high number of people who suffer from mental ill-health commit or attempt suicide. It is actually the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 in the UK. Having suicidal thoughts is a symptom of mental illness and like all other symptoms, it can be successfully treated and can improve over time.
Self-harm is where a person hurts themselves on purpose, usually as a way to cope with overwhelming and distressing thoughts or feelings. As it provides temporary relief from the distress they are experiencing, it can become a regular coping mechanism for people. It’s not an attempt at suicide or even a cry for help, people who hurt themselves are doing it to make themselves feel better. Self-harm can be caused by a mental health disorder and in order to break the cycle of harm, it’s vital for people to talk to someone about the harm and understand the distress that’s causing it.
While many people think of medication as the main course of treatment for mental health problems, therapy is one of the most effective ways to promote recovery. There are many types of therapy used to treat mental health conditions, but usually, it involves talking with a trained therapist to work through the causes of the problem and helping people understand their disorder. Therapy is a highly successful treatment for most mental health problems.
Talking about it
Besides talking to a trained therapist, people who are experiencing mental ill-health almost always benefit from talking about their problems. Confiding in a friend, family member or medical professional is often the first step to recovery and can provide a huge sense of relief and reassurance for people.
Understanding of mental health problems has increased massively in recent years, but there is still a long way to go to end the stigma attached to mental illness. The more people understand that mental health is something we all have and that mental illness is just like a physical illness, the closer we get to moving away from the belief that it’s frightening or something to be ashamed of. By raising awareness of the facts of mental illness, we can help improve universal understanding of it.
There is a close link between mental health and violence. Certain mental disorders can lead people to become more violent and this can be one of the most distressing and frightening parts of the illness. Episodes of violence can also trigger mental health problems. However, it is very wrong to think that people who suffer from mental ill-health are more likely to be violent, in reality, they’re no more likely to commit violent acts than anyone else in the community and are more likely to harm themselves than others.
Having good mental health is a vital part of our overall wellbeing. Physical, social and emotional wellbeing means people can enjoy and appreciate life and our wellbeing can be affected by many factors. The concept of wellbeing is a holistic approach to health, taking in all the various elements of a person’s life and appreciating their importance.
Mental health and wellbeing are vitally important for young people and statistics show that mental ill-health is a big problem for children and young people in the UK. One in six children in the UK aged 5 to 16 were identified as having a probable mental health problem in 2021, so it’s clear this is an area of serious concern. But awareness campaigns and an improvement in understanding are helping to break the stigma for young people, enabling them to reach out for help and get on the path to recovery.