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Problems

Mental Health

The following information may be helpful to anyone suffering from mental illness or for anyone caring for someone with mental illness. At the end we list agencies, websites which can offer information, support and practical advice which you may find useful.

If you feel you may be suffering from a mental illness it is important to talk to your GP about this and for any issues around medication and treatments speak to your GP/community mental health team. Do not come off any medication without consulting your GP/medical professional.

IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE IN DANGER OF HARMING YOURSELF OR ANOTHER PERSON PLEASE SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY. IF THE PERSON YOU TELL DOES NOT UNDERSTAND AND FIND YOU HELP YOU MUST FIND SOMEONE ELSE WHO WILL HELP YOU TO GET THE HELP YOU NEED.

From our experience in supporting people with mental illness it is apparent that in many areas resources are very limited, community mental health teams are often overstretched and under funded and key workers may not always be able to spend quality time with each individual in his/her care. Government funding is not put into mental health in the way it is put into agencies and help for those with physical illnesses. Not only do those with mental illness have to cope with the illness itself, in many cases they are having to cope with the stigma of mental health which still exists, the lack of help and resources and support and often being rejected by their families and friends leading to chronic isolation.

Those with mental illness often feel that they are not given adequate say in their care and treatments and in many cases have had treatments forced upon them without any explanation as to the reasons for the treatment, the possible side effects, etc. Many people with mental illness are not made aware of their rights, and indeed are not aware that they have any rights at all. Many who are discharged from the mental health system are given no after care support to help them rebuild their lives in the community. It is vital that ongoing support is given to anyone who is recovering or working towards recovery in order that they can integrate into society and lead fulfilling and happy lives.

As a result it is very common for people with mental illness to have much anger and bitterness towards the mental health system but they may be offered no counselling or emotional support to deal with these feelings. This is important as often these feelings can hinder their recovery and healing. Instead of having the necessary help and ongoing support many people in the system or recently discharged from the system retreat into themselves and lead a lonely life with feelings of isolation, despair, helplessness, and a general feeling that nobody really cares. There are exceptions, of course, where in some areas improvements are being made for mental health users to be really listened to and a higher quality of care and support is given but we can only speak for the majority of our callers with mental illness that universally much more needs to be done to help anyone suffering with mental illness.

One in four people suffer from some kind of mental illness which can often be as a result of neglect, emotional, physical, sexual abuse in childhood and/or considerable trauma in adulthood. It is important for anyone with mental illness to try and regain some feeling of control in their own lives in order to move towards recovery, to really be listened to as to what helps them and works for them and what doesn't - they normally know best (except in the most severe cases). They know how to go at their own pace towards recovery, how far to push themselves, and when it would impede their recovery to be pushed too far when they are in a highly anxious state.

To work towards recovery and integration into the community those with mental illness need to be given the opportunities to make their own choices and decisions wherever possible in order to start regaining some control over their own lives and to help build up their confidence and self esteem. They may need reassurance and encouragement with this but they find it extremely patronising and disabling to be continually told what is good for them without any consultation with the individual person as to what he/she feels would help in his/her recovery, and to have their feelings and thoughts devalued and/or ignored. A person with mental illness can feel hurt, pain, frustration, anger, just like anyone else and wants to be treated as an individual in his/her own right - not as a 'number' in the system.

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The following may be helpful to anyone with mental illness

  • Get as much support for yourself as you can.
  • Ask for help when you need it - recognising when you are not coping and need support is a sign of strength - not weakness.
  • Keep a list of helplines and other useful numbers so you have these ready should your feelings become overwhelming and you are unable to cope.
  • Deal with one thing at a time - don't overload your head with too many things to deal with at once. It may help to write a list of the things you need to think about or things you need to do and work through the list at your own pace.
  • Try to keep your home as tidy and uncluttered as you can as this will help your mind to feel less cluttered.
  • Do your housework at your own pace, if you are not up to tidying up one room, then tidy part of the room one day and the rest of it the next day.
  • Try and get some fresh air and exercise each day and build this into your routine. It can be therapeutic to try and spend time in the park, countryside, where you can be at one with nature.
  • Try and interact socially with someone each day and get used to being around people for some part of the day - this could be going to the shop to get groceries, going to the library, a day centre, - somewhere you can be around people so you are not on your own all the time. However, if there are days you are not up to going out or talking to anyone that is fine - do things at your own pace.
  • Keep yourself as physically well as you can and eat a healthy diet.
  • Try to do something which you enjoy each day and something which you look forward to doing.
  • Try not to get frustrated if you have setbacks. This is natural and don't give yourself a hard time if you have days when you simply can't cope with anything. Spend that day relaxing, pamper yourself and do whatever you need to care for yourself. Don't put any added pressure onto yourself and if not answering the phone or the door helps then don't answer it - just give yourself peace and quiet.You should find in recovery that the bad days get less and you are able to recover more quickly from a bad day.
  • Try not to get frustrated if you feel you are not making progress as quickly as you would like. Focus on what you are able to do today as compared with what you were able to do six months ago, a year ago.
  • When you have a good day it may help to keep a journal where you can list the things you have been able to do and look back at this if you feel depressed or frustrated as it will help to focus your mind on the improvements you are making, the things you are able to do on your well days.
  • If something doesn't work out how you would like don't blame yourself and feel you are a failure. Nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Tell yourself you will deal with things differently the next time.
  • Talk to yourself in the same way you would talk to a friend - if a friend made a mistake you would not call your friend a loser and a failure - you would say something like don't worry about it - you did your best. Say that to yourself instead of negative comments.
  • Don't assume that other people are looking at you or talking about you - most people are too busy and worried about their own lives and what they are doing to focus on other people. If someone is talking about you they may be saying something good and positive about you.
  • Think always in a positive way - when you have a negative thought try and give yourself a positive thought.
  • If you have suffered a lot of abuse in your life your perception of reality may be distorted. It is important to remember that there are people in life who are trustworthy, good, kind and caring people who would never dream of doing anything to hurt you or abuse your trust in any way.
  • If you feel you don't know how to trust it may mean you are not at a stage in your recovery yet when you can trust but in time you should know when you feel ready to take the risk of trying to trust again. By ringing a helpline you are taking a step to trusting someone with your feelings and emotions.
  • Try to focus on the solution to a problem - not the problem itself.
  • Look for healthy ways of getting out your feelings.
  • Try not to over-react to other people and what they say. Some people find difficulty in expressing themselves clearly and you may feel that someone is 'getting at you' when in fact they are not.
  • Try to learn to be assertive - not aggressive. You have rights the same as anyone else and should not allow other people to use you, abuse you in any way, take advantage of you. If this is a problem for you maybe look into getting some emotional support to help you with this from a helpline or think about whether face to face counselling may help you to build up your confidence and learn ways in which you can be assertive. Some local colleges also run assertiveness classes. If you are having real problems in getting the help and services you need try and find an advocate who will help you with this.
  • Try to see the positive things about yourself and not focus on what you feel are the negative things about yourself. It is not uncommon for someone with mental illness to say they hate themselves, are bad and there is nothing good about them so they cannot possibly see why anyone would like them or want to know them. If you ask them the question what would they do if a friendrang up in a distressed state they would invariably say they would comfort thefriend, listen to them, give them time and try and be there for them. That shows qualities of being a good listener, being caring, showing empathy, showing sensitivity and being a good friend - these are all qualities which not everyone possesses.
  • If you have habits or things about you which you think are 'bad' remember it is the habits which you think are bad - not you as a person. It doesn't mean you are a bad person - just a person who may have bad habits.
  • Try to remember that if someone is unkind or unhelpful about your mental illness it is because they lack understanding. Anyone who suffers with mental illness deserves as much respect and compassion as someone who suffers from physical illness.
  • Remember that recovery and healing can be a slow process, be patient with yourself and give yourself time - take one step at a time.
  • If you are unhappy or confused about your treatment in any way discuss this with your mental health community team. You can also seek advice from one of the helplines below.
  • Please believe that there are people who will support you and try and help you with your recovery but to get help you have to ask for it. If the first person you ask for help is unable to give you the help you need, don't be disheartened but keep trying all the resources you can until you do get the help you need.

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Some agencies which give support and information

  • SupportLine - 01708 765200, email info@supportline.org.uk - Telephone helpline for children, young adults and adults. Provide emotional support on wide range of issues including support to anyone suffering from mental health. Also details of counsellors and agencies throughout the UK

  • Anxiety UK (formerly the National Phobics Society):
    08444 775 774
    www.anxietyuk.org.uk
    Support and help with anxiety conditions and phobias including panic attacks, ocds, body dysmorphic disorder, social phobia. Information, factsheets, tapes, self help guides. Extra services for members include therapy services at reduced rates, helpline, member contact list, discounts on products, chatroom.

  • Battle Against Tranquillisers: 0844 8269317, www.bataid.org - Telephone support and other help for people who take benzodiazopine tranquillisers or sleeping pills to withdraw from them as comfortably as possible.

  • BPD Helpline, www.bpdworld.org - Information, advice, support for anyone with borderline personality disorder, family and friends.

  • British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies: 0161 705 4304, email babcp@babcp.com, www.babcp.com - Behavioural and cognitive therapy can be very successful in treating a wide range of mental health and emotional issues.

  • Carers UK is the voice of carers and the leading campaigning, policy and information organisation for carers. For information and advice on all aspects of caring visit their website at www.carersuk.org or call their helpline - CarersLine - on 0808 808 7777.

  • Cause Helpline: 0845 603 0291 (Area served NORTHERN IRELAND), www.cause.org.uk - Practical and emotional support for carers and families of those with serious mental illness.

  • Community Advice and Listening Line (CALL) 0800 132737 (Area served WALES), www.callhelpline.org.uk - Helpline providing advice, information and emotional support for anyone concerned about their own or another's mental health

  • Council for Information on Tranquillisers & Antidepressants (CITA): 0151 932 0102, www.citawithdrawal.org.uk - Telephone service for people addicted to tranquillisers and for their families, partners, friends. Information and advice on tranquillisers, sleeping tablets, anti-depressants and other prescribed mind altering medication. Referral to legal advice. Range of leaflets. Self help groups in the Liverpool area.

  • ECT Anonymous: 0113 244 5454, email unaparker@aol.com - Information and advice on all issues surrounding the use of Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT).

  • Gofal:
    01656 647722

    www.gofal.org.uk
    Leading Welsh mental health and wellbeing charity. Provides a wide range of services to people with mental health problems supporting their independence, recovery, health and wellbeing. Services include crisis intervention, home and family support, community wellbeing, skills, learning and employment.

  • Health in Mind (Scotland)
    0131 225 8508

    www.health-in-mind.org.uk
    Promotes positive mental health and well being in Scotland. Provides a wide range of services including support, respite, befriending, day services, counselling/talking therapies, face to face and on telephone.

  • Hearing Voices Network: 0114 271 8210, www.hearing-voices.org - Information, support and understanding to those who hear voices and those who support them.

  • Lifeline (N.Ireland)
    0808 808 8000

    www.lifelinehelpline.info
    For anyone in N.Ireland who is in distress or despair. Immediate help on phone 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Face to face counselling can be arranged, also befriending, mentoring. Issues dealt with include suicide prevention, self harm, abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety.
    Run by Contact N.Ireland www.contactni.com independent counselling service employing professional qualified counselors who have extensive experience of working with people facing a wide range of problems, free to all users.

  • MDF The Bipolar Organisation
    National Office: 020 7931 6480
    www.mdf.org.uk
    National user led organisation working to enable people with manic depression to take control of their lives. Telephone information on anything to do with the condition including medication. Network of self help groups for people with depression, their relatives and friends. Self management training programme. Employment advice.

  • Mental Health Foundation: www.mhf.org.uk - Publications and leaflets relating to mental health issues. Website includes information for sufferers/family/friends,including how to get help, how to complain if not getting adequate help you are entitled to, information on medication etc.

  • MIND infoline: 0300 123 3393, www.mind.org.uk - Information service for users of mental health services, carers, professionals and the public. Information on types of mental distress, treatments, alternative therapies, mental health law, advocacy, where to get help, local Mind groups. Access to legal advice. Fact sheets and publications.

  • Mood Swings:
    Helpline: 0161 832 3736

    www.moodswings.org.uk
    National Helpline and online support providing free and confidential information, advice and support to people with mood disorders, family, friends and health and social care professionals. Also one to one, support groups, workshops at Centre in Manchester.

  • National Perceptions Forum (previously known as National Voices Forum):
    www.voicesforum.org.uk
    National service user network set up within Rethink. Phone for details of local groups and contacts etc. For people with experience of imagining things, hearing voices, breakdowns, people given a diagnosis of schizophrenia, psychosis, severe mental illness.

  • Support In Mind Scotland: 0131 662 4359 (Areas served SCOTLAND), www.supportinmindscotland.org.uk - Telephone helpline information, advice and other support services for people affected by mental illness. Range of direct services.

  • Rethink National Advice Line:
    0300 5000 927

    www.rethink.org
    Specialist advice to anyone who needs support or information on any mental health issue. (Rethink is the operating name of National Schizophrenia Fellowship).

  • Saneline: 0845 767 8000, www.sane.org.uk - Helpline providing information and advice on mental health. Emotional and crisis support for people experiencing mental illness and for their families, carers friends. Database of sources of help and support.

  • Scottish Association for Mental Health:
    0141 530 1000 (Area served SCOTLAND)
    www.samh.org.uk
    Telephone information service on mental health issues for the public, carers and health professionals. Information on benefits and legal issues related to mental health. Residential projects, training and employment services and day care for people with mental health problems across Scotland.

  • Seroxat: www.seroxatusergroup.org.uk - A site set up by patients to provide support and information and to notify users who wish to withdraw about how to do so. Also provide a Doctor Pack which patients can take with them when visiting GP to discuss withdrawal and deal with issues such as aggression, sexual dysfunction, alternative health resources, litigation, frequently asked questions relating to side effects and withdrawal symptoms etc. Details of support groups (currently in Essex, Gloucestershire, Ireland and Kent).

  • TASHA Foundation:
    020 8560 4583
    www.tasha-foundation.org.uk
    Offices in Middlesex, Hanwell and Surrey
    Provides one to one counselling to those coming off tranquillisers suffering from anxiety and stress. Helpline gives support to all those coming off tranquillisers.

  • The Care Quality Commission: 03000 616161 www.cqc.org.uk – Independent regulator of health and social care in England. Aim to make sure better care is provided for everyone whether its in hospital, in care homes, in peoples own homes or elsewhere. Regulates health and adult social care services and protects the rights of people detained under the Mental Health Act.

  • Together UK (Working for Wellbeing): 020 7780 7300, www.together-uk.org - Provides services in the community and hospitals and prisons for people with mental health needs and their carers. Services include advocacy, assertive, outreach schemes, community support, employment schemes, helplines, information, respite for carers, social clubs, supported accommodation including 24 hour care.

  • Young Minds: 0808 802 5544, www.youngminds.org.uk - Helpline and support services for parents concerned about the mental health of a baby, child or young person. Publications.

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Useful websites

  • www.advicenow.org.uk - Information on the law and your rights.

  • www.amandagreenauthor.co.uk – Amanda writes of her journey how she overcame borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, OCD and various adversities.

  • www.april.org.uk - Information on Adverse Psychiatric Drug Reactions.

  • www.benefitsandwork.co.uk
    Advice on claiming ESA support and other benefits.

  • www.benzo.org.uk - Information relating to Benzodiazepines.

  • www.bigwhitewall.com
    Improving mental health and emotional well being

  • www.bipolar4all.co.uk
    Information and support on bipolar including forum

  • www.bipolaraware.co.uk
    Iformation and support relating to bipolar

  • www.borderlinepersonalitytoday.com - Information, advice, forums, chat, and support relating to borderline personality disorder.

  • www.bpdrecovery.com - Focuses on recovering from borderline personality disorder, tips, techniques, chat, safe place for those with BPD to share concerns, voice opinions, seek like-minded individuals, work towards recovery, discuss medications and therapy approaches, explore impact of their illness on their lives and those of their families/friends. Includes relaxation and grounding exercises

  • www.bcnc.org.uk - Support for people who wish to reduce or completely withdraw from benzodiazepines and related drugs, e.g. diazepam (aka valium), temazepam, zopiclone etc.

  • www.chipmunkapublishing.com - World’s first mental health publishing - includes details of Chipmunka Foundation which includes forum for people with mental health issues.

  • www.counselling-directory.org.uk – Information on finding  a local counsellor.

  • www.dailystrength.org - Online community support for anxiety, mental health and health related conditions.

  • www.mind.org.uk/foodandmood - A site which explains how the foods we eat can affect our emotional well being and mental health. Gives advice on the best foods to eat to help with anxiety, depression, panic attacks and the foods to avoid.

  • www.mindingyourhead.info
    Information relating to mental health, depression, stress and anxiety.

  • www.healthyplace.com - A community of people providing mental health information, support and the opportunity to share experiences helpful to others. Information on psychological and psychiatric medication from both a consumer and expert point of view. Active chatrooms, hosted support groups, people who keep online journals, diaries, mental health news, mental health videos, online documentary films, mental health radio and more. (American site).

  • www.intervoiceonline.org - Information and forum relating to hearing voices.

  • www.mental-health-matters.com - Information on mental health, personality disorders etc.

  • www.mentalhealthcare.org.uk - Website aimed at anyone providing support to someone experiencing mental illness including details of local support groups.

  • www.pendulum.org (American site) - Online support groups for people with manic depression (Bipolar disorder).

  • www.sort-out-stress.co.uk - Site aimed at men includes information relating to Mental health issues.

  • www.ssrisex@yahoogroups.com - Support group for those who suffer from persistent sexual dysfunction of various forms as a result of taking SSRIs that has continued after stopping to take the drug. Type ssrisex in search engine.

  • www.surgerydoor.co.uk - Click on 'medical conditions' and then 'mental health', lots of information relating to mental health issues, depression, anxiety, phobias, etc.

  • www.thesite.org - Includes information relating to mental health.

  • www.time-to-change.org.uk
    Ending the stigma of mental health including tips, blogs, advice.

  • www.videojug.com - Click Health on top bar then click Mental Health, includes fears and phobias, personality disorders, stress, body dysmorphic disorder.

Useful book

The Quiet Room: Journey Out of the Torment of Madness by Lori Schiller, Amanda Bennett - Publishers Little Brown & Company: ISBN 0446671339
Click here to read more or buy this book

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