Mental health and mental illness are complicated subjects that are continually being researched. Below are a list of some commonly asked questions and answers to help you grow your understanding of mental health and how it affects those and those around you.
*Please note that the following is considered general advice. Please seek the help of a medical professional should you have further questions.
Q: What is mental health?
Our mental health is affected by our emotion, physical, and social well-being. Taking care of our mental health is extremely important as it changes the way we handle the world from childhood through adulthood. Mental health problems are common and can be caused by a number of different factors:
- Family History
Mental illness covers a broad spectrum of mental disorders, some of the most common are depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Each of these affects the way a person feels, thinks, and acts.
Mental illnesses can affect people differently. While mental illness is common, for some taking care of their mental health might be enough to continue to function normally. Others may have major depression, severe anxiety attacks, or have a schizophrenic break and need more outside help and possibly hospitalisation to help them with their mental health.
Taking care of one’s mental health is always important, but when suffering from a mental illness, it becomes even more so. Understanding symptoms, family history, and taking care of yourself are essential to your mental health and maintaining a healthy life.
Q: Who does mental illness affect?
Mental illness can affect anyone. In Australia, almost half the population has experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime. Mental illness can affect people at any age, although 24 is the average age disorders begin to show symptoms. Many of the symptoms of mental illnesses can be masked by childhood development. It is important at all stages of life to track your mental health so that you are aware when there are changes in your mood, functionality, and mental state.
It is important to remember that mental health can affect anyone and may not always be visible. Take care of yourself and those around you and seek help if you think you are having mental health problems. It is also essential to understand that mental illness should not be treated as taboo. Being able to discuss and learn about mental illness freely means that more help and support can be provided to those suffering from a mental illness.
Q: What are the symptoms of mental illness?
The symptoms of mental illness can vary due to the range of mental health illnesses and because different people might suffer different severities and symptoms. However, there are warning signs that you or a loved one might be suffering from a mental health issue:
- Social withdrawal
- Confused thinking
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Long-lasting sadness or irritability
- Strong feelings of anger
- Extreme highs or lows in mood
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Excessive fear or anxiety
- Increasing inability to cope with daily activities
- Abuse of alcohol or drugs
- Numerous unexplained physical problems
- Thoughts of death
There are also several symptoms most prevalent in children and young adults that are essential to keep a lookout for. Some of these symptoms can go unnoticed because they are masked by the childhood and adolescent adult development:
- Changes in school performance
- Frequent outbursts of anger
- Persistent nightmares
- Defying authority/persistent disobedience
- Stealing, damaging property
- Long-lasting negative moods, thoughts of death
- Pour appetite
- Intense fear of weight gain
- Drugs/alcohol abuse
- Inability to cope with daily activities
- Change in sleeping/eating habits
- Excessive complaints of physical problems
If you find yourself or a loved one suffering from any or all of these symptoms it is time to seek help. Working on your mental health on your own or with outside help does not instantly get rid of these symptoms but can offer the support and help to reduce the symptoms and provide coping mechanisms so that they do not affect daily life with as much severity.
Every case is different, so it is essential to track your symptoms. This allows you and your therapist/doctor to provide the most beneficial help for your mental illness.
Q: Can people with mental health issues recover?
Like physical health issues, there is a variety of mental health issues, and each has their own path toward recovery. The number one way to think of recovery is for a person to reach a healthy mental and physical space. For some recovery will involve finding the right person to talk to, for others it could be finding the right medication to achieve a stabilised state or for some, they may be able to wean off the medication.
Finding help and beginning the process to recovery is the key to being able to reach a place where mental health issues are no longer a constant disruption to everyday life or future dreams and desires once again seem possible. What is important to remember is that recovery will mean different things for different people depending on the mental health issues they have.
Q: Where can I go for more information about mental illness?
There are many places you can go to help, websites, hotlines, and local organisations. Mental illness is still a subject that is not given enough support, but there are quality sources in the form of books and websites that can provide information and advice. You can also turn to local therapists, physicians, psychiatrist, mental health organisations, etc. to learn more about the subject.
Being informed is a crucial step in being able to provide help to those in need.
Q: How does the Bell Foundation help?
The Bell Foundation believes that providing quality courses on mental health to healthcare related workers can ensure that healthcare professionals are kept well informed on mental health needs and issues. This way they can give the best care and assistance to those will a mental health illness. With healthcare workers that understand the challenges of mental health, they can in turn help and educate the community.
Q: How can I help?
If you are interested in getting involved, there are different ways you can help. You can get involved with local organisations and volunteer or donate to help support those suffering from mental illness and support the science going into mental health.
Making yourself knowledgeable about mental health is also essential to be able to be a support to your community and loved ones.
You can help the Bell Foundation with its mission by getting involved or donating. With your support, we can provide help and awareness. Mental health problems affect all of us whether personally or through a loved one and being educated and knowing how to help are vital to changing the current state of how mental health is viewed and treated.