Mental illness has, for a long time, been something of a taboo subject for many people. Due to the complex nature of the subject most people find it difficult to empathise with sufferers, which can lead to stigmatisation and discrimination. Whether you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, think you may have a mental illness or simply want to learn more then you will probably have plenty of questions. Common questions include:
- What is a mental illness?
- What to do if you think you may have a mental illness?
- What help is available, both nationally and locally?
- What to do if you encounter discrimination due to having a mental illness?
- What is the process of diagnosis and treatment?
- Are there any symptoms I should look out for?
- What can family members or friends do to help someone with a mental illness?
- Are there any lifestyle changes that can affect mental health?
You will find answers to many of these questions on this site, as well as where to find further information. If you have any questions about your mental health then it is very important that you speak to someone as soon as possible. There are many different types of mental illness, each with a variety of symptoms ranging from feelings of stress or anxiety to depression or paranoia.
What to do if you think you have a mental illness?
If you suspect you may have any symptoms of a mental illness you should make an appointment with your G.P. as soon as you can. They will be able to asses your situation, refer you to an appropriate specialist as well as talk through your general concerns and recommend any changes in lifestyle that could be beneficial. If they believe that you are suffering from any symptoms of a mental illness you will probably be referred to the mental health unit of your local NHS trust. Here you will be able to receive further diagnosis from a mental health specialist and find out what help is available to you locally.
What help is available?
While you will receive professional medical advice from your G.P. and local trust it is also very helpful to speak to a friend or family member with whom you feel comfortable. Dealing with a mental illness can be a harrowing time and the emotional support offered by loved ones can be very beneficial. Alongside professional help the support offered by having someone close-to-hand is very important in dealing with mental health issues. While it can be difficult to open up to others about your problems, due to the stigma attached to mental illness, information about mental health is increasingly more available which helps in reducing the amount of discrimination or prejudice sufferers encounter.
You are not alone
One in four people suffer from mental health issues in any one year, so it is important to remember that you are far from alone. The main cause of stigmatism is the lack of open discussion about mental health in society, but this is beginning to change. As more information becomes available to people the level of understanding rises. Employers are less likely to discriminate against mental health issues as society as a whole becomes more accepting and understanding about people’s problems and needs.