Understanding mental health
In the same way we all have physical health, we also all have mental health. And like our bodies, sometimes our minds can suffer illness too.
Although it’s improving even today mental health has a stigma attached to it that doesn’t exist with physical health issues. This means people can be very reluctant in admitting to mental illness for fear of being labelled ‘mad’.
One of the most important ways to deal with mental illness is to be understanding, regardless of whether it is you or someone else who is suffering. Fostering a culture of understanding and acceptance within your organisation will help immeasurably.
Be open, honest and unashamed.
Some mental health conditions are caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters and exist in a delicate balance when we’re mentally healthy. If we’re producing too much or too little of any of these this can causes symptoms of mental illness such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
However some mental health conditions are caused by circumstances and life events and have no neurological explanation. This can be something like going through a difficult period of illness, unemployment or suffering a trauma such as abuse or bereavement. These feelings may not last forever but can feel very intense at the time, and you may need extra support to move forward.
In the same way it’s impossible to list every symptom of physical illness, it’s also impossible to list every symptom of mental illness. However there are a few common things to look out for:
17% of people will have suicidal thoughts in their lifetime.
If you have suicidal thoughts or feelings of self-harm, you’re not alone, many people do and you’re not beyond hope. There are people and services out there to help you through and you don’t always have to speak to people face to face to get help.
What about my colleague?
If a colleague is feeling suicidal or is self-harming the best approach is respect, reassurance and support. Things that can make the situation worse are lecturing them on their feelings, rejecting them, criticizing, being patronizing or analyzing their situation.
The best thing you can do is be a friend, listen and be as supportive as you can.
If you’re having thoughts of self-harm or suicide which you feel you may act upon, seek help immediately from your local A&E or by calling Samaritans’ free 24 hour line on 116 123.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) mental disorders are classified into the following 22 categories:
Five steps from the NHS
Like our physical health we need to look after our mental health to avoid developing problems. We can do this by seeking out opportunities to relax, do things we enjoy regularly, socialize with friends and family and by promoting good physical health.
NHS Choices offer the following five steps:
What works for one person may not be beneficial for another when it comes to mental health. There are many forms of support and advice out there it’s best to have a look and try a few to see what works best for you.
There are various forms of online therapy, some of which are free, some must be paid for. Cognitive behavioral therapy is common but requires a GP referral. You can also find lots of information about safe, clinically reviewed courses by visiting www.nhs.uk/Conditions/online-mental-health-services
Community support groups.
These come in many different forms from help in your home to meeting for coffee. Services vary from area to area, perform a web search to see what’s on in your area or be a champion to others and start something yourself with like-minded people.
Your GP can offer access to counselling, medication and various therapies. What is available does vary from area to area and services can be stretched. It’s worth seeing your GP alongside accessing a local community ran service, so you’re not on your own if you have to wait for NHS treatment.
We’re here to help too. Scroll down for how we can help you.
If you feel you’re suffering from mental health issues or have a friend or relative that you’re concerned about get in touch with us. The following is available to all individuals covered by an APL Health policy.
You can contact us confidentially 24 hours a day on 0845 862 2113.
Occupational health assessment.
If you’re concerned about your mental health or generally aren’t feeling yourself, you can arrange an occupational health assessment with one of our specialist nurses. This will help us to understand the issue and suggest ways you can be supported. Email us on email@example.com to arrange yours.
If you feel you could benefit from a course of counselling you can arrange it in three ways:
Contact our 24-hour helpline
Request an occupational health assessment and we can make a referral on your behalf
Contact our counselling department directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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