Mental Ill Health

Mental Ill Health

A mental health condition can develop in childhood or adulthood. It can be short term or long term depending on the type of mental health condition and the person’s circumstances including their access to appropriate treatment and support.

There are a number of mental health conditions including:

  • Anxiety

Symptoms (How this may impact on someone’s life):

People living with anxiety find it difficult to control their worries and may feel things are worse than they are.

oPhysical symptoms include increased heart rate, difficulty breathing and dizziness.

oPsychological symptoms include feelings of loss of control, thinking that you might die or have a heart attack, and feelings of wanting to escape or run away.

oCognitive symptoms include changes in our thought processes, thinking negative thoughts repeatedly.

oBehavioural or social symptoms such as not wanting to leave the house, abusing substances such as drugs or alcohol or behaving in ways that affect your relationships.

  • Depression

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.

Symptoms (How this may impact on someone’s life):

An individual experiencing depression will feel emotions such as hopelessness and negativity, these feelings don’t go away.

oMild depression has a small negative impact on daily living

oMajor depression has a more significant effect on daily living

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 a 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 experiencing depression and provide further information on the condition. One example is the ‘Depression Alliance’ www.depressionalliance.org/

Use to answer question 9.1a of the Care Certificate

  • Schizophrenia

This condition can be described as having a break from reality, a person has difficulty understanding what is real and what is in their own thoughts.

Symptoms (How this may impact on someone’s life):

  • Hallucinations, (where someone can see, hear or smell things that are not real, but are real to them)
  • Delusions (where someone believes things that are not true)
  • Changes in behaviour (e.g. becoming more disorganised and unpredictable, appearance or dress may seem unusual to others, inappropriate behaviour, becoming extremely agitated, shouting or swearing for no reason)

These experiences are 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 saying that you can’t see or hear what they believe, let them know you are there to here to help and they are safe.

  • Bipolar Disorder

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

Bi-polar disorder 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 ways others find difficult to understand. (Bipolar disorder used to be referred to as manic depression). Some people with bipolar disorder also experience psychosis.

Use to answer question 9.1a of the Care Certificate

  • Panic Disorder

A person may have panic attacks have an unclear feeling of anxiety about what is ahead of them, it may affect their behaviour e.g. they may wish to get off the bus and rush home rather than continue with their journey.

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD develops when a person has an overriding need to carry out a ritual because of anxiety or a fear of what will happen otherwise e.g. spending hours a day carrying out cleaning rituals because of the fear of contamination. Sometimes OCD can be based on a phobia.

  • Phobia

A phobia is an extreme fear of something, e.g. a person may be so scared of spiders that they may never leave their room in case they encounter one.

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a particular form of anxiety. People who have been through traumatic events, e.g. in war situations; through bullying at school or work or as a result of sustained abuse. People who have this condition have difficulty in controlling their levels of anxiety and terrifying flashbacks which may be triggered by a particular word, phrase, image or memory.

It is important to never label anyone as being ‘mentally ill’ without having been diagnosed by someone who is medically qualified to do so. It is important to understand that some physical and treatable conditions can have similar symptoms and cause the person to appear to be mentally ill e.g. toxins in the blood due to a urine infection or fever. Injuries to the head can cause brain injury but a person with a brain injury is classed as having a neurological disorder rather than a mental illness.


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