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Thinking differently about mental health and wellbeing

What is mental health?

Mental health is 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 own community. (World Health Organisation)

The definition of ‘mental ill health’ or ‘mental health problems’ covers a very wide spectrum, from the worries and grief we all experience as part of everyday life to the most bleak, suicidal depression or complete loss of touch with everyday reality.

There are many issues that impact on our mental health including our physical health, our social situation, our living environment and/or genetic factors. This makes us all at risk of developing a mental health problem at any time during our lives. The most important thing to realise about mental health problems is that the majority of people who experience them do recover or learn to manage their mental health problem and still lead meaningful and fulfilled lives.

What are mental health problems? Lady holding a thinking differently sign

'Mental health problems', 'mental illness' and 'mental ill health' are all common terms that are used to refer to the full spectrum of diagnosed clinical conditions such as depression, anxiety, psychosis, bipolar or schizophrenia. Symptoms of mental health problems have traditionally been divided into groups called either ‘neurotic’ or ‘psychotic’ symptoms. ‘Neurotic’ covers those symptoms which can be regarded as extreme forms of ‘normal’ emotional experiences such as depression, anxiety or panic. Conditions formerly referred to as ‘neuroses’ are now more frequently called ‘common mental health problems,’ although this does not always mean they are less severe than conditions with psychotic symptoms.

Less common are ‘psychotic’ symptoms which interfere with a person’s perception of reality and may include hallucinations, delusions or paranoia, with the person seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling or believing things that no one else does. Psychotic symptoms or ‘psychoses’ are often associated with ‘severe mental health problems.’

However, there is no sharp distinction between the symptoms of common and severe mental health problems. It is important to remember that some illnesses feature both neurotic and psychotic symptoms.

Can you have a mental health problem and still experience good mental health?

Yes you can. It may seem counterintuitive, but a mental health problem and good mental health can be experienced by a single individual at the same time. With the right support and treatment, many people learn to effectively manage their mental health problem and still live fulfilled lives, experiencing good mental health. Just because you have a diagnosed mental health problem, it doesn't mean that you can't aspire to be who you want to be and get the most out of your life. We work with people daily, supporting them to achieve above and beyond their expectations, giving them a sense of hope, self identity, meaning and personal responsibility and the tools to ensure they can self-manage their journey of recovery. We aim to inspire everyone we work with to think differently about their mental health.

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