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Your Health

Mental Health

A health trainer chats with a client

Our public health team helps to advise, develop and coordinate mental health services in Bradford and Airedale. We work with our colleagues at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, Bradford District Care Trust, Bradford Metropolitan District Council and our partners in the community including charities, GPs and nurses, and most importantly with patients.

We want to help our population to stay well and for all of our patients to be able to get the right treatment that works for their condition.

If you are worried about your own mental health or that of a family member or friend, it is important to get help as quickly as possible. Ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away, things may even get worse. Your doctor is the best person to contact in the first place who will refer you to an appropriate service if you need more help. Follow the links below for more information.

How common is mental ill health?

Mental ill health is common and can affect your daily life, relationships or physical health. In Bradford and Airedale, more than 100,000 adults and children suffer from mental ill health. One in three will see their doctor about it.

Without support and treatment, mental health problems can have a serious effect on the individual and those around them.

Types of mental health problems

Mental health problems are more common in certain groups, such as:

  • People with poor living conditions
  • People from ethnic minority groups
  • Disabled people
  • Homeless people
  • Offenders

There is no single cause of mental health problems and the reasons they develop are complex. Some mental health problems are more common in certain people. For example, women are more likely than men to have anxiety disorders and depression. Drug and alcohol addictions are more common in men, and men are also more likely to commit suicide. Diseases such as dementia generally develop in old age, whereas eating disorders are more common in young people.

Mental health disorders take many different forms and affect people in different ways. Schizophrenia, depression and personality disorders are all types of mental health problem.

Depression

Depression is the most common cause of mental ill health. More than a quarter of people in Bradford and Airedale report feeling low or downhearted some of the time. Those at higher risk of depression include older persons, people living with chronic illness or disabilities, people living in poverty, and ethnic minorities. People who care for loved ones with chronic illness are also at risk.

There are many different treatments available locally including talking therapies, counselling, self-help guides and medication if necessary.

If you suffer from depression, it is important you try to look after yourself well:

  • Eat well and keep active
  • Cut down alcohol
  • If you are on medication, take it regularly
  • See the doctor or nurse looking after your mental health regularly

For more information on depression, go to NHS Choices.

There are also free online self-help resources such as MoodGym and Steps.

Dementia

This is a common disease in older persons. One in five over the age of 80 suffers from dementia. Dementia is not easy to diagnose and unfortunately only one in two people with dementia have been diagnosed with it.

Usually patients will say they are having ‘problems with remembering things’ or their family may notice their memory worsening with age. Some patients may feel uncomfortable seeing their doctor about this, but it is important that they do.

If you, or a family member, are worried about having memory problems that could be dementia, please see your GP or tell your nurse. There is help available once it is diagnosed.

For people with dementia, here are some practical tips:

  • Keep a diary and write down things you want to remember
  • Pin a weekly timetable to the wall
  • Put your keys in an obvious place such as a large bowl in the hall
  • Have a daily newspaper delivered to remind you of the date and day
  • Put labels on cupboards or drawers
  • Place helpful telephone numbers by the phone
  • Write reminders to yourself, e.g. put a note on the front door to take your keys
  • Programme people’s names and numbers into your phone
  • Install safety devices, such as gas detectors and smoke alarms

Visit NHS Choices for more information on dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Society in Bradford also provides useful information and services for people with dementia and their carers.

Stress

Too much pressure or prolonged pressure can lead to stress, which is unhealthy for the mind and body. It can cause symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating

If it is not treated stress can cause further health problems such as high blood pressure, anxiety and depression. These conditions may require further treatment including medication or counselling.

For tips and advice on how to manage stress, see the Live Well section about Stress management.

Your GP can help and a self-help booklet on stress is available.

Mind have a booklet on how to manage stress.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, having a medical test or job interview.

Feeling anxious is sometimes perfectly normal. However, people with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and often affect their daily life. For more details:

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Anxiety/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Eating disorders

Eating disorders include a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically (mentally) and socially (their ability to interact with others). The most common eating disorders are:

Anorexia nervosa, when someone tries to keep their weight as low as possible, for example by starving themselves or exercising excessively. Around 1 in 250 women and 1 in 2,000 men will experience anorexia nervosa at some point. The condition usually develops around the age of 16 or 17.

Bulimia, when someone tries to control their weight by binge eating and then deliberately being sick or using laxatives (medication to help empty their bowels) Bulimia is around five times more common than anorexia nervosa and 90% of people with bulimia are female. It usually develops around the age of 18 or 19.

Binge eating, when someone feels compelled to overeat. Binge eating usually affects males and females equally and usually appears later in life, between the ages of 30 and 40. Due to the difficulty of precisely defining binge eating, it is not clear how widespread the condition is.

If it is not treated, an eating disorder can have a negative impact on someone’s job or schoolwork, and can disrupt relationships with family members and friends. The physical effects of an eating disorder can sometimes be fatal. Treatment may involve cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy and dietary counselling. There is a range of other healthcare services that can help, such as support and self-help groups, and personal and telephone counselling services.

See also http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/eatingdisorders/pages/eatingdisordershomepage.aspx

For help contact BEAT on 0870 770 3256, email info@b-eat-co-uk or visit the website at www.b-eat.co.uk

Psychosis

Psychosis is a condition that affects a person’s mind and causes changes to the way that they think, feel and behave. A person who experiences psychosis may be unable to distinguish between reality and their imagination. It is estimated that one in every 200 people in the UK has experienced psychosis. Some people will only experience one psychotic episode, while others may experience several throughout their life.

People who are experiencing psychosis are sometimes referred to as psychotic. They may have:

  • Hallucinations – where you see or hear things that are not there
  • Delusions – where you believe things that are untrue

Psychosis is not a condition in itself, it is a symptom of other conditions. The most common cause of psychosis is a mental health condition, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (manic depression). Medication can control some symptoms and it can be treated by counselling or psychotherapy.

For more information, visit http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth/pages/cannabispsychoticbreakdown.aspx

The early intervention team provides assessment, help and support for people aged 14 to 35 who may have had a first episode of psychosis. Contact 01274 221021 / 022.

Tips on staying well

Getting help from people you know is a good step towards helping yourself to cope with difficulties e.g. friends, family, teachers and work colleagues. You could also try community organisations, community centres and your faith community.

It is important that we all try to look after our mental health. Here are some simple steps:

  • Eat healthily - a healthy diet is not just important for physical health but also for your mental health
  • Keep physically active – exercise can boost your mood and reduce stress and anxiety
  • Cut down alcohol – too much alcohol can badly affect your mood and judgement. If you do drink, enjoy drinking within safe limits
  • Be with other people – regular contact with people whose company you enjoy can help prevent you feeling isolated and help motivate you to do other self-help activities
  • Relaxation – relaxation tapes and CDs are available to loan from your local library or you can buy them online and in local stores. Yoga and meditation are also good ways to relax
  • Be good to yourself – increase the amount of pleasurable activities you do on a daily basis; take time out to do the little things that you enjoy and treat yourself
  • Spiritual wellbeing – it is important to take care of your spiritual wellbeing as part of your healthy lifestyle
  • Manage your time – don’t overload yourself with work or chores. Write a list, prioritise and set realistic goals

Treatment and support

People with mental health problems need help and support to enable them to cope with their illness. There are many treatments, including medication, counselling, psychotherapy and self help.

It is important that people with mental illnesses are told about the options available so they can decide which treatment suits them best.

An important step in the recovery process is for the person to accept that they are ill and to want to get better. This can take time, and it is important for family and friends to be supportive.

Many support groups and charities offer advice, confidential counselling and information about the types of treatment available and where to get help.

How can I help someone with mental health problems?

There are a lot of myths surrounding mental illness and it can feel like you don’t know enough to be able to help. But you don’t need to be an expert on mental health to make a difference.

People with mental health problems can and do get back on their feet and lead fulfilling lives. Some of the ways in which you can help are:

Be there to talk and listen. It’s often hard to tell someone about a mental health problem because of fear of people’s reactions. So if someone talks to you, don’t brush it off, acknowledge their problem and let them know you’re there for them.

Make time to stay in touch. Call, visit or invite your friend round – carry on with whatever you normally do.

Ask the person how you can help – people will want support at different times in different ways.

Keep in mind that having a mental health problem is just one part of the person. People don’t want to be defined by their mental health problem.

Think about the words you use – words like nutter, crazy and psycho can hurt.

Where can I turn to for help with mental health problems?

If you are experiencing mental health problems or need urgent support, there are lots of places you can go to for help.

A guide to all the mental health services available throughout the district is available at www.mentalhealthinbradford.nhs.uk. It lists over two hundred services, mostly within the Bradford and Airedale district, which may be able to help. Many of the services can be accessed directly, while for others you need a referral from a professional (such as your GP).

Mind in Bradford is an independent organisation affiliated to MIND (National Association for Mental Health) that works towards a better life for people experiencing mental ill health and distress. This includes a drop-in service and a telephone helpline known as Guide-Line (01274 594 594, open midday – 9pm).

Bradford District Care Trust provides mental health and learning disability services to communities in Bradford, Airedale and Craven.

Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide. Contact 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours a day) or email jo@samaritans.org

Saneline is a national mental health helpline providing information and support with mental health problems and those who support them. Contact 0845 767 8000 (6pm – 11pm)

Rethink provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff. Contact 0845 456 0455 (9am-5pm Monday to Friday) or email info@rethink.org

Sometimes, people with mental health problems are discriminated against. This can lead to social problems such as homelessness, which may make the mental health problem worse.

For more information about a national campaign to tackle stigma and discrimination visit http://www.time-to-change.org.uk

Information for carers

If you look after someone who is ill or disabled, your mental health may be affected. An official report on the mental health of carers found that more than half of all carers reported symptoms of mental health issues, such as stress or depression.

To find out about services that could help you cope with caring for someone and for free, confidential information and advice contact Carers Direct on 0808 802 0202. Lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 11am to 4pm at weekends. Calls are free from UK landlines or you can request a free call back. You can also ask for a call back in one of more than 170 languages.

If you are caring for someone who has mental health problems, you should familiarise yourself with the legal and ethical issues round the treatment of their condition. For information about sectioning, voluntary hospital admission and the Mental Health Act visit www.nhs.uk/carersdirect/guide/mental-health/pages/mentalhealth.aspx

Children and young people

Growing up can be difficult for both children and their families. Children and young people too can suffer from poor mental health such as depression and anxiety or behaviour issues. Around 10% of children are thought to have a mental health condition. This can have an important impact on their lives and that of their families. It can also affect how well they do in school and their life chances later on. There are special services for children and young people locally that your doctor, nurse or school may be able to access for them.

There are free online resources at Young Minds.

Relate in Bradford also provides counselling help for individuals and families with relationship difficulties.

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