Guide to understanding mental illness

How much do you know about mental health, and what you can do to help?

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week. To mark the occasion, and to help spread the word, we’ve compiled a few facts on mental health that you may not have known before.

  •      Around 20% of children and adolescents suffer from some sort of mental health issue or problem at some point in their life, say the NHS.
  •      There are a wide range of different mental health conditions. Disorders such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia are some of the more well-known conditions.
  •      A link has been found between physical health and mental health issues. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 30% of people with a physical health problem also suffer from a mental health disorder.
  •      Someone suffering from mental health issues may be reluctant to speak about their problems. They could also be suffering from a lack of sleep or mood swings. 

I think someone I know is suffering from mental health issues – what should I do?

It’s important to make sure the person in question feels comfortable talking about how they are feeling. You should let them share as much information as they would like. Try to ask simple, open-ended questions (such as “Why don’t you tell me how you’re feeling?”) and give them as much time as they need to respond.

Listen carefully to what they say, and reassure them that you have understood what they are going through. If you feel that they need help, direct them to a local counselling team, be it through work or college. (Advice from Mental Health Foundation)