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There are a number of mental health conditions which include psychosis, depression,
mood disorder and anxiety. In any year, 1 in 4 adults in Britain will experience at least one mental health need according to the Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report. Mental health can be seen positively to identify a positive state of mental well-being or negatively, to identify a negative state of mental well-being, for example, mental health problems or issues.

An individual may experience a mental health need as a result of:

  • A traumatic event, such as an accident, a death in the family or as a result of a war
  • A chemical imbalance in the brain. Chemical imbalance means the chemicals or hormones that affect our emotions and behaviour may be lower or higher than they should be
  • Genetics, for example, a person’s additional needs may be due to their DNA.

Some people think that depression is not a condition and that it will simply go away.  This is not true, it is an illness with recognised symptoms but it is treatable. Most people experience feelings of sadness or being down, however living with depression is different. An individual experiencing depression will feel emotions such as hopelessness and negativity that doesn’t go away. There are three main groups of depression:

  • Mild depression - This has a small negative impact on daily living;
  • Major depression - This has a more significant effect on daily living
  • Bi-polar disorder - This causes the individual to experience extreme mood swings from highs, such as joy and excitement, to feelings of complete misery and hopelessness. As a result, they may behave in a way others find difficult to understand. We will look at this in more detail shortly.

Symptoms of depression can last for a couple of weeks, a number of months or longer.

Living with depression can affect how an individual sees themselves. This can lead to them not engaging in social life, with family or their work. There are treatments available to support people with depression. In some cases, having the opportunity to talk and share how they feel can help. There are various organisations that support individuals who are experiencing depression and provide further information on the condition. One example is the ‘Depression Alliance’.

Feeling worried or anxious is normal, many people experience things in life that create these feelings. However, those living with anxiety find it difficult to control their worries. As a result, they may feel that things are worse than they are. This can create a number of other symptoms including:

Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, difficulty breathing and dizziness.

Psychological symptoms such as feeling a loss of control, thinking that you might die or have a heart attack, and feelings of wanting to escape or run away.

Cognitive symptoms such as changes to your thought processes, thinking negative thoughts repeatedly behavioural or social symptoms such as not wanting to leave the house, abusing substances such as alcohol or drugs or behaving in ways that affect your relationships. Individuals may stop going out with friends, or to places such as the supermarket, as they are worried about how they might feel when they are there.

There are treatments which help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This helps someone to talk about their condition and manage the effects by trying to change the way they think.

Psychosis is a symptom of conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. NHS Choices say that around 3 in 100 people will have at least one experience of psychosis.

There are two significant signs of psychosis:

  • Hallucinations - where a person sees or hears things that aren’t real but are very real to them. They can also include feeling, smelling or tasting things that aren’t real.
  • Delusions - where a person believes things that aren’t true, for example believing that someone is spying on them.

Schizophrenia is a condition can be described as having a break from reality when it is difficult to understand what is real and what is in their own thoughts. Symptoms could include: hallucinations, delusions and changes in behaviour.

Bipolar disorder is a condition affects a person’s moods and means they can go from one extreme mood to another alongside having feelings of depression.

These experiences can be frightening and lead to behaving in ways that others deem as strange. One way of supporting someone who is experiencing a hallucination or delusion is to embrace what they are saying or doing. Rather than telling them that you can’t see or hear what they are seeing or hearing, let them know that you are there to help and that they are safe. This could avoid the feeling you don’t believe them and could help ease their stress. Most people who experience psychosis will get better with medication.

However, in some cases, they may have to be admitted to hospital for treatment and support. If your organisation provides care for people with psychosis, speak to your manager about how individuals’ needs are assessed.