What is mental health?

Anyone can get mental health problems, we all have times when we feel down or stressed or frightened. Most of the time those feelings pass. But sometimes they develop into a more serious problem and that could happen to any one of us.
Not one person is the same as each of us deal with certain issues, conditions, general day to day life in a different way. Your mental health doesn’t always stay the same, it can change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your life.
Some people call mental health ‘emotional health’ or ‘well-being’ and it’s just as important as good physical health.

What are mental health symptoms?
Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life to serious long-term conditions. Many people who experience mental health problems can get over them or learn to live with them, especially if they get help early on.
Traditionally mental health symptoms have been divided into groups called either ‘neurotic’ or ‘psychotic’ symptoms. ‘Neurotic’ covers those symptoms which can be regarded as severe forms of ‘normal’ emotional experiences such as depression, anxiety, or panic. Conditions formerly referred to as ‘neuroses’ are now more frequently called ‘common mental health problems.’
Less common are ‘psychotic’ symptoms, which interfere with a person’s perception of reality, and may include hallucinations such as seeing, hearing, smelling, or feeling things that no one else can. Mental health problems affect the way you think, feel, and behave. They are problems that can be diagnosed by a doctor, not personal weaknesses.

How common is mental health problems?

Data from Mental Health.org.uk is:
1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.
1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England.

Data from MIND.org.uk for specific diagnosis is:
Mixed anxiety and depression: 8 in 100 people
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD): 6 in 100 people
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): 4 in 100 people
Depression: 3 in 100 people
Phobias: 2 in 100 people
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): 1 in 100 people
Panic disorder: fewer than 1 in 100 people.
Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD): 3 in 100 people (in their lifetime)
Borderline personality disorder (BPD): 2 in 100 people (in their lifetime)
Bipolar disorder: 2 in 100 people (in their lifetime)
Psychotic disorders (including schizophrenia): fewer than 1 in 100 people (in any given year)
1 in 5 people have suicidal thoughts
1 in 14 people self-harm
1 in 15 people attempt suicide

How do mental health problems affect people?

Anxiety and depression can be severe and long-lasting and have a big impact on people’s ability to get on with life.

Between one and two in every 100 people experience a severe mental illness, such as bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia, and have periods when they lose touch with reality. People affected may hear voices, see things no one else sees, hold unusual or irrational beliefs, feel unrealistically powerful, or read particular meanings into everyday events.

Although there is a lot of awareness around mental health nowadays, many people who live with a mental health problem or are developing one try to keep their feelings hidden because they are afraid of other people’s reactions. Therefore, they may feel afraid to see a doctor or specialist to get a diagnosis.

How do Businesses increase the understanding of mental health, and promote a positive mental health workplace?

At any time, it is highly likely an organisation is employing at least one individual whose wellbeing is influenced by mental ill health. Supportive business practices can reduce the length of employee absences, improve morale, and promote positive workplace wellbeing.

As a Mental Health First Aider, BPHR has created resources for your business to covering this crucial topic. This pack can be used by HR and managers to review, and improve, current practices and support systems in place across the organisation. Resources include:

  • ‘how to’ guides on managing mental health, providing management training and managing workplace stress
  • checklists on making mental health reasonable adjustments and carrying out return to work meetings after mental health absence
  • customisable model documents including a mental health policy and wellness action plans
  • flowcharts to help identify signs of poor mental health and respond to stress at work

With 70 million working days are lost each year as a result of mental health problems, which equates to costing the employers approximately “2.4 billion a year. With up to 300,000 people with mental health problems lose their jobs each year. This could potentially lead to unfair dismissal cases going to the Employment Tribunals.
Tackling the stigma around mental health doesn’t just make good business sense – it will support a healthier and happier workplace.

As a Mental Health First Aider, give BPHR a call for support in tackling mental health in your business.