According to Mind, 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their lives. As if that statistic wasn’t shocking enough there are thousands more people who suffer and go undiagnosed, therefore not only do they not get counted in official estimations like this but they do not get the help they need. It can be hard recognising an issue – but it is even harder to know what to do once you are ready to get help.
Talk To Someone
Once you have realised that the way you are feeling may actually be an issue with your mental health, then it can help to talk to someone. How public you chose to make your issues is up to you, but even if you don’t want to tell anyone having one person that understands what you are going through can be really helpful. The likelihood is that you will be facing a few weeks of appointments, trial and error with different medications and basic administrative things like booking therapy. Having someone to lean on during these times will make it feel a lot easier.
Go To Your GP
The first thing you need to do if you start feeling like you may have a mental health issue is to go to your GP. Sometimes it can be tempting to brush your issues under the carpet because you do not feel comfortable talking to your GP about things that are so personal to you – but they have all of the tools to refer you to the right services and get you the help that you need. It is worth remembering how common it is for GP’s to diagnose mental health issues. They are trained to deal with mental health as well as physical health and if they cannot help you after diagnosis they will put you forward to people that can.
If you cannot get an appointment to see your GP urgently and you feel like your health, wellbeing or safety is at risk without treatment then go to your local A&E department. Many people do not realise they can do this but a mental health emergency can be just as dangerous as a physical one. They will refer you to the correct mental health crisis teams and get you the help that you need.
Do Not Change Your Own Medication
Although SSRI’s are a great improvement on some of the older anti-depressants and medications used to treat mental health issues – different things work for different people. Getting your medication right may take a few weeks and you may have to try different dosages or even different drugs all together. Do not make any changes to your prescribed medication without discussing this with your Doctor. Many medications for mental health cannot just be ‘stopped’ without having undesirable side effects. Keep seeing your Doctor in the first few weeks of diagnosis to keep up to date on how your medication is going, and discuss any changes you want to make with them.
Some people have the opinion that mental health conditions can’t be treated with medication or medication makes them worse. Please remember to only listen to registered medical professionals and make your own choices when it comes to this. Ask yourself if the same person that is telling you that you do not need medication would tell you not to take paracetamol for a headache. The NHS mental health services have improved significantly over the years and you need to communicate with them and trust them when it comes to medication.
Take As Much NHS Treatment As You Can
When you first get diagnosed with a mental health issue it is likely you will be referred to NHS Therapy For You. It is wise to explore any NHS treatments that are available to you that you feel may benefit you. If you have heard of something you want to try ask your GP if it is available through the NHS. When it comes to mental health it may take a while to work out what it is that works for you – so until you do this it is worth trying anything that comes your way for free.
Find Things That Work For You Personally
During the initial stages of being diagnosed with a mental health issue a lot of your time can be taken up finding the right medication for you and booking things like counselling or therapy. Once this dies down you can explore the things that work for you outside of NHS treatment. A lot of people find meditation and mindfulness a great help, and exercise has been proven to help by releasing endorphins. Everyone is different and most people can find at least one thing that makes them feel better – even if it is just taking some time out of their schedule to have an hour to themselves.
If you want to know what mental health support services are available in your area, you can type your postcode into the NHS Choices website.