Supporting People with Mental Health Conditions

 What is Mental Health?

Mental health is the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people and the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity; from early childhood until late life, mental health is the springboard of thinking and communications skills, learning, emotional growth, resilience and self-esteem.

Mental Health Problems

Mental health problems can be caused by physical, mental or social conditions – or any combination of these.  The majority of people who experience mental health problems can get over them or learn to live with them, especially if they get help early on. Mental health problems are usually defined and classified to enable professionals to refer people for appropriate care and treatment. But some diagnoses are controversial and there is much concern in the mental health field that people are too often treated according to or described by their label. This can have a profound effect on their quality of life. Nevertheless, diagnoses remain the most usual way of dividing and classifying symptoms into groups.

Most mental health symptoms have traditionally been divided into groups called either ‘neurotic’ or ‘psychotic’ symptoms. ‘Neurotic’ covers those symptoms which can be regarded as severe forms of ‘normal’ emotional experiences such as depression, anxiety, stress or panic attack. Conditions formerly referred to as “neuroses” are now more frequently called “common mental health problems.” Less common are ‘psychotic’ symptoms, which interfere with a person’s perception of reality, and may include hallucinations such as seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling things that no-one else can.

One in six people will have suffered from a mental health difficulties mostly anxiety, stress or depression.  These affect nearly half of all women and a quarter of men before the age of 70. It is estimated that 30% of GP consultations in the UK are for mental health problems and over time, 30% of employees will have an episode of mental ill health. It is also estimated that:

  • In the UK 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year
  • Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain
  • Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men
  • Depression affects 1 in 5 older people living in the community and 2 in 5 living in care homes
  • British men are three times as likely as British women to die by suicide
  • The UK has one of the highest rates of self harm in Europe, at 400 per 100,000 population
  • Only one in 10 prisoners has no mental disorder


Our Mental Health Well-being Support Programme

In promoting our mental health support strategies, we seek to improve wellbeing and protect people from adverse circumstances. Our effective promotion of mental health is based on a broad understanding of health and needs to encompass a correspondent breadth of co-ordinated interventions for maintaining and enhancing it. As a field of supportive services, our mental health promotion encompasses strategies, activities and interventions that seek to develop the resilience, resourcefulness and wellbeing of individuals and communities as a means of improving their mental and physical health. It encapsulates a range of activities that seek to improve wellbeing, including general action on the upstream determinants of health as well as specific, targeted health promotion and health-protection measures. These measures include interventions for people in vulnerable groups who are ‘at risk’ of mental illness (primary prevention) and interventions aimed at maintaining the good health of individuals who have experienced mental illness, but are currently relatively well (secondary prevention). Recent policy developments have provided a framework through which mental health promotion can be put into practice (Department of Health) It is generally accepted that a combination of protection and risk-reduction measures makes for sound mental health promotion strategies. Protective measures are those that create the conditions for good mental health, such as meaningful employment, good quality of life, housing and low levels of crime. Risk reduction measures include support for people ‘at risk’ in navigating through difficult circumstances


Our STRATEGY for Mental Health

Our strategies’ aim is to promote wellbeing as the bedrock for mental health problems by intervening early when people are diagnosed with psychiatric illness and reducing the impact of serious mental illness. This approach allows us to focus on many concepts that are associated with positive mental health and wellbeing such as “social cohesion”, “social inclusion”, and “resilience. Central to the associated concept is the promotion on recovery and enablement as key features, however, take a human rights approach, aiming both to tackle stigma and discrimination and to address issues of equality and diversity.

  • Our focus at a population level – it is a widely known view that health inequalities and social inequalities are closely linked to mental health problems , and that factors such as poverty, social isolation, domestic and other abuse, bullying, unhealthy work environments, overcrowding, and homelessness all impact negatively people’s mental health. Therefore by reducing health inequalities will also lead to improvements in the nation’s mental health.
  • Our strategy within communities – there is a definitive link between deprivation and poor mental health, and the need for preventative action in areas of deprivation.  We therefore seek to promote mental wellbeing through targeted community programmes; through sensitive planning and environment policies; through positive activities such as arts and culture; and through good practice in different community settings and in the workplace.
  •  Our Strategy for individuals – We particularly focus on specific groups of people that are hard-to-reach and known to be at increased risk of mental ill health, and on the need to intervene positively to reduce that risk, with specifically reference to: – the need to give young people the best start in life, and to intervene positively with children or parents where this is not being achieved; –    identifying people who face particular life stresses and who may not have easy access to health care (such as refugees, veterans, women subject to abuse, people within the criminal justice system), and to target resources and support at these groups; –    recognising the risks faced by many older people, whether through social factors like isolation or through health factors linked to increasing age, and again intervening positively to offer prevent mental health problems.


Our Interventions for mental health:

We start from the premise that mental health care is better located within a social, psychological framework, which represents a recovery approach . Our recovery approach support structure always benefits from planning based on a clear, shared understanding of predisposing, precipitating, maintaining and protective factors which lead to or mitigate distress; at present, care is often uniformly driven by an understanding of illness as represented by patterned clusters of symptoms which risks ignoring or subordinating psychological and psychosocial factors. For example, focusing on a psychological model of interventions such as CBT addresses the person’s personal, social and interpersonal circumstances more fully.

Clearly, such individual recovery approach formulations support personalised services, choice, and benefits from:

  • Planning based on need and functional outcome rather than diagnostic categories.
  • Care and support planning based on individual case formulation; a matrix of judgements incorporating the complexity and severity of clients’ needs.
  • Investment in preventative and health promotion with greater links between mental health services and education services.
  • The ‘recovery’ approach perspective which stresses the benefits and importance of building a meaningful and satisfying life, as defined by the persons themselves, whether or not there are ongoing or residual difficulties associated with mental health problems.
  • The recovery approach, which represents a movement away from a focus on pathology, illness and symptoms to health, strengths and wellness. This approach equally stresses the importance of finding and maintaining hope: believing in oneself; having a sense of personal agency; remaining optimistic about the future It emphasises the benefits of re-establishment of a positive identity: finding a new identity which incorporates illness, but retains a core, positive sense of self. People are encouraged to build a meaningful life: making sense of their difficulties and finding a meaning in life, despite such problems.
  • Individuals are encouraged to take responsibility and control of their mental health problems and their wider lives by focussing on psychological processes and the environmental factors that impinge on their lives. Instead of exercising ‘authority’, as professionals we view mental health clients an experts in their recovery process.
  • We involve service users and carers in all aspects of mental health services – planning, designing, commissioning, implementing, delivering, governing, managing and evaluating, can improves the effectiveness and quality of services and, ultimately, mental health outcomes.