Mental health can be a sensitive subject, as many might find uncomfortable to discuss. However, having issues with mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. Finding someone to talk to is important, as without treatment, some sufferers turn to unhealthy ways to try to manage their problems: using drugs and alcohol, gambling, food, or misusing the internet as attempts to cope with their issues, rather than addressing them directly. This can lead to cycles of negative behaviour and an inability to function in society.
This discomfort in considering mental health issues openly and honestly is somewhat ironic, considering just how commonly people (children and adults) experience instances of anxiety, stress and depression. Anxiety is a normal, if unpleasant part of life, which can affect different people in different ways, at different times. Extreme, acute anxiety in the form panic attacks – with frightening and debilitating symptoms like shaking, a racing heart, prickly skin, and feeling faint – are all too common in today’s social climate. Everyone experiences stress sometimes in the workplace, at school, even at home with their family, just as everyone sometimes feels sad. Even positive life changes, such as a promotion, a mortgage, or the birth of a child, can produce stress and anxiety.
Sometimes, though, these normal fluctuations lead to more serious issues that are harder to deal with. Whereas stress will come and go along with the external factors that trigger it (an incident at work, tension in a relationship, money problems, etc.), anxiety is something that can persist over long periods, even when the cause is not clear to the sufferer. Stress and anxiety can lead to periods of feeling sad or ‘down’, but depression is more than just a few days of feeling unhappy: depression can make you feel persistently sad for weeks, even months at a time. Depression has a range of different symptoms, including problems sleeping, feeling very tearful or hopeless, or losing interest in things you used to love to do.
Sadly, when someone needs help to deal with mental health issues, all too often we find community services stretched to breaking point, which leads to people lacking adequate support. This adds more stress and misery, and can extend negative impacts on physical health. Not only can this intensify mental health issues, but many often find themselves stuck in unhealthy and destructive relationships that may lead to infidelity, dysfunctional family dynamics, even violence. I’ve found it helps my clients to understand more about their mental health options, in order to manage their symptoms in healthier ways. Research shows that many people are placed on anti-depressants and other medications for mental health conditions without being offered therapeutic interventions. Our service presents a range of options, as we help you build psychosocial skills to cope with life’s demands without medication.
One option is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on the connections between how we think about ourselves and our situation, how we feel, and our behaviour. A CBT approach can help us to have a clearer perspective of our environment and how we respond to others. This awareness can be key to a healthier life for those who suffer from long-term difficulties in relationships, intense emotional distress, and behaviours such as self-harm or aggression towards others. In my practice, I’ve found CBT especially helpful for people, including children, who are habitually distrustful of other people, and who have difficulty in reading other people’s motivations and reactions.