Essential mental health information
One in four people experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Each year more than 250,000 people are admitted to psychiatric hospitals and over 4,000 people take their own lives. Mental illness ranges from depression and neurosis through to psychoses, schizophrenia and personality disorders. The legislation covering the treatment of people with mental health problems is the Mental Health Act 1983.
More mental health information and a quick guide to mental health problems
There are many different mental health disorders.
– anxiety disorders: There are a number of different anxiety disorders, each with specific symptoms. However, it’s generally the case that an individual feels so anxious and uncomfortable that they start to avoid whatever it is that causes these feelings. Phobias fall within this category.
– depression: Symptoms include difficulties with sleeping, change in appetite, a loss of interest, feelings of guilt and thoughts of death and suicide.
– eating disorders: This category includes anorexia nervosa, where sufferers eat very little because they think that they are too fat, and bulimia nervosa, the symptoms of which include binge eating, vomiting and the taking of laxatives.
– manic depression: Also known as bipolar disorder, and is characterised by extreme mood changes.
– personality disorders: These relate to the way an individual acts and behaves . There are various diagnoses including paranoid personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
– post-traumatic stress disorder: Individuals may have flashbacks or keep thinking or dreaming about a disturbing event they have experienced such as an accident.
– schizophrenia: Individuals may lose touch with reality and see or hear things, such as voices
Treatment for mental health disorders include:
– medication: depends on the diagnosis but examples include anti-depressants such as Prozac, tranquillisers to help reduce anxiety, or anti-psychotic medication if an individual is suffering from schizophrenia or manic depression.
– talking treatments/psychological therapy: these include psychotherapy or counselling. Generally an individual will meet with a qualified mental health professional to talk about their difficulties and come up with strategies for dealing with them.
– complementary therapies: there are many different types. Popular ones include aromatherapy, reflexology, and hypnotherapy.
– self-help: there is a wealth of self-help advice available. Numerous books have been published, support groups formed, and online links developed via the internet.
– children and adolescents tend to be assessed by child and adolescent mental health teams.
Treatment is administered in a variety of settings, such as hospitals and health centres, and by professionals who possess different qualifications. These include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counsellors, mental health nurses, and occupational therapists.
Community mental health teams (CMHTs), which provide services in the community, are multi-disciplinary and have a wide array of staff attached to them. In addition, in some areas specific teams have been set up. These include assertive outreach teams which work with people who have a severe mental illness and who are reluctant to engage with services, and crisis resolution teams that can be contacted at any time of day if someone needs their help.
Detention under the Mental Health Act 1983
Most people with mental health problems who receive treatment in hospital are there on a voluntary basis. However, around 15 per cent are not and have been detained under a section of the Mental Health Act 1983. This is also known as “being sectioned”. In order for a person to be detained, three people must agree that this is necessary – two doctors and an approved social worker (a social worker who has received additional training in mental health).
Sections two and three of the act are often used to detain people. Under section 2, a person can be detained for up to 28 days, while section 3 allows for a person to be detained for up to six months – and can then be renewed.
Under section 117 of the act, patients who have been detained are entitled to free aftercare after they have left hospital.
• Around 300 people out of 1,000 will experience mental health problems every year in Britain
• 230 of these will visit a GP
• 102 of these will be diagnosed as having a mental health disorder
• 24 of these will be referred to a specialist psychiatric service
• 6 will become inpatients in psychiatric hospitals.
* There are more than 4,700 suicides in England and Wales each year. Many more suicide attempts are made each year, and at least 1 person in every 100 appearing in hospital after a suicide attempt will succeed within a year, and up to 5 per cent do so over the following decade
* Suicide rates for men are higher than for women in all age groups
* Males aged 25-34 are at most risk of suicide
* A study in south London found that Black populations had a rate of admission to medium-secure care 7-fold higher than their white counterparts
* 95% of prisoners have a mental health problem
Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health – mental health charity working to improve the quality of life for people with mental health problems
Mind – mental health charity to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress
Mental Health Foundation – mental health charity to help people survive and recover from mental health problems.
YoungMinds – national charity committed to improving the mental health of all children and young people.
Royal College of Psychiatrists – the professional and educational body for psychiatrists in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland
Rethink – the leading national mental health membership charity, works to help everyone affected by severe mental illness recover a better quality of life. We provide hope and empowerment through effective services and support to all those who need us and campaign for change through greater awareness and understanding.
General enquiries: 0845 456 0455
Together (formerly Mental After Care Association) – charity which supports people with mental health needs
National Institute for Mental Health in England – responsible for supporting the implementation of positive change in mental health and mental health services.