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What is Mental Health?

The World Health Organisation defines the mental wellbeing in the following terms:

‘Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.’

There is no universally accepted definition for ‘mental illness’. Following is a general description of mental illness, from Wikipedia:

A mental disorder or mental illness is a psychological or behavioural pattern that is generally associated with distress or disability, and which is not considered part of normal development or a person's culture. Mental disorders are generally defined by a combination of how a person feels, acts, thinks, or perceives.

Mental health problems affect our thoughts and feelings and change how we see the world. Some feelings associated with mental ill health are disabling levels of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness or low self esteem. When such feelings become so intense and frequent that they affect a person’s ability to live a normal life, that person is considered to be suffering from a mental health problem.

Who suffers from mental ill health?

Anyone, from any race, culture, or socio-economic class, can suffer from a mental health problem. Traumatic experiences, conditions in childhood, and personalities are factors in the development of mental illness; however, circumstances that trigger mental ill health in one person may not do so in another.

About a quarter of the UK population will be diagnosed with mental ill health at some point in life. In Rhondda Cynon Taf, one in six people are experiencing mental ill health at any one time; more than 40,000 people!

Asking For Help

Knowing when to ask for help can be difficult.  A person may, for example, decide to approach the G.P. Depending on what is needed, the doctor may prescribe medication, refer the patient for hospital care, recommend an independent organisation or voluntary group, or direct the patient to a local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT). Alternatively, a person can approach his/her nearest CMHT directly. Each CMHT is staffed by a range of health and social care professionals who can provide support and guidance.

One in Four People Experience Mental Ill Health

Any one of us could experience mental ill health at some point in life. In most cases, the problems experienced are temporary, and recovery will be complete. Some people, however, will suffer severe and enduring mental health problems, which may require long-term treatment.

What is a Crisis?

A mental health crisis occurs when thoughts, feelings, and behavior are out of control, causing risk to oneself or others. A person having a mental health crisis can no longer cope with daily life. The crisis point is different for each person, and will depend upon the person’s level of support from family, friends and professionals, and the sufferer’s previous mental and physical state of health.

If you think you are experiencing a mental health crisis, contact you G.P or the Health and Social Services worker in your local Council.

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