Do I have mental health problems and should I get some help?

How do we recognise if a reaction to a stressor has developed into a mental health problem? Here’s a five point guide…

Chances are that within your lifetime you will experience some form of mental health problem, the most common of these being depression and anxiety. But because most people with a mental health condition will never access any formal types of support or treatment, many of these mental health problems will go undiagnosed. Longitudinal studies (i.e. research conducted with the same people over many years) support the notion that experiencing a diagnosable mental health condition or disorder at some stage during a person’s life is the norm, not the exception. A study recently published by Schaefer and colleagues (2017) established that over 80% of participants from their health and development study were found to have a diagnosable mental health condition, from the time of their birth to midlife. This was amongst a representative group of more than 1,000 people studied over a four decade period.

So if most of us will experience mental ill-health at some time in our lives, why is it so hard for people to recognise the signs and symptoms of this in themselves, and subsequently access treatment? Here are five reasons why people may be reluctant to seek professional help:

1: Mental health stigma and its impact

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2: Problems in the mild to moderate range

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Copyright: Pinterest

3: When is it really bad?

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By Kaihsu (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0

4: Securing treatment

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5: A lack of hope

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Most of us will experience an episode of mental ill-health during our lifetime. The challenge is recognising the signs and seeking appropriate help when you need it. One of the best thing you can do is to open up and talk to people you trust about how you’re feeling and ask for help when you need it.

Reference

www.open.edu/openlearn/supportnet

Dr Mathijs Lucassen is a Lecturer in Mental Health and Dr Jonathan Leach is a Lecturer in Health and Social Care at The Open University. This article was previously published in December 2017 on OpenLearn. You should subscribe to our newsletter for more free courses, articles, games and videos.

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