Living with a Mental Health Condition

13 Jul, 2015 Categories: Blog

Our mental health determines how we cope with everyday life, how we learn and develop and how we form and maintain relationships.  Mental health provides us with the ability to make decisions and allows us to express and feel positive and negative emotions.

Anyone can suffer mental problems as it does not discriminate or judge! Having emotional issues can impair the way we think, behave, interact and they can affect our ability to deal with life’s ups and downs.

There are many types of mental health disorders varying in severity from person to person – it is important to note that social and environmental factors can play a major role in the development of a mental health problem.

Some of the types of mental health problems we see are:

  • Anxiety
  • Adjustment Disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar
  • Eating Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Self-harm
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Overcoming challenges

There is a misconception that people who have a mental illness cannot live and lead a normal life.  We know that this is not true. With the right kind of help and support, many people do improve and can recover and lead a healthy, productive and satisfying life.

Treatment & symptom management

When you are living with a mental health problem it is important that you get the support you need, when you need it. Getting help early can mean that the right help is accessed before the problem worsens.  Early intervention by reaching out to a mental health professional will enable you to reduce many of the symptoms and allow you to begin the journey of regaining control.

There are many effective treatments available today that can help you manage your mental health problems. Medications, therapy, peer support and self-care are the most common forms of treatment.  Often, people use a combination of them to meet their specific needs.  With the right help, you can experience relief from your symptoms and, in some cases, be completely free of them.

There is no one approach, however evidence suggests that having a care plan in place that is individualised to you and your needs will give you structure with the next steps carefully and clearly documented.  A collaborative and tailored care plan helps you identify your needs, the goals that you want to achieve and how you can achieve them.  Care plans should be evidence based (i.e. the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines).

They may include:

Talking Therapy

Therapy involves talking about thoughts, feelings and actions with a mental health professional. It can be done in a few different ways: one-on-one; as a couple or family; or in groups.

Talking with a therapist can help you better understand why you feel or behave in certain ways. You can also learn how to deal with a specific problem or cope with intense emotions, such as stress, grief, anger, frustration and fear.

Group Work

Many young people benefit from feeling that they are not alone.  Group work can be an effective tool in opening up communication, assist in the understanding of mental health and in helping young people learn from one another’s experiences.  It provide a safe space to feel included and their voice heard amongst people to they can relate to and who relate to them.

Family Support

Families can often find it challenging to relate to and understand the effects of mental illness and distress.  This can cause distance or conflict and confrontation both at home and school.  Family work is invaluable in joining up the other therapeutic interventions and bring all of that work together.  It ensures that clinicians, families and the young person’s work is comprehensive, cohesive and offers the opportunity to monitor progress.

Medication

Once you receive a primary diagnosis, your doctor (usually a consultant psychiatrist) may prescribe a medication which aims to help and alleviate your symptoms. For example, if you suffer with Attention Deficit Disorder, your doctor may prescribe a medication which will help you become more focused and less distracted.

The road to recovery

Recovering from a mental health condition is individual to each person and it is important to note that recovery is a process and journey, not an event. The uniqueness and individual nature of recovery must be respected and acknowledged. An important influence in a person’s recovery is acceptance. Learning to accept your condition and being able to recognise your treatment needs,  as well as being able to seek support when you notice changes in your mental health, and educate others can make a big difference to your journey and future wellbeing.

Hope

Those with mental health conditions can and do pursue higher education, succeed in their careers, and make friends. Education specifically can accelerate your recovery process in that it broadens your intellectual, social and emotional horizons. When you go to classes, you not only have an opportunity to expand your knowledge on a wide variety of topics that interest you, but you also have a chance to meet new people and find structure.

Everyone has potential and no matter what barriers you are faced with, you can develop your resilience and are capable of having a successful life, and you can work towards your hopes and expectations for the future!