Understanding mental health

The second week in May marks Mental Health Awareness Week. With popular shows like 13 Reasons Why depicting dramatised scenes of depression and suicide, and the term “OCD” thrown about for those who like things to be neat – do we really know that much about mental health issues?

Charity Mind estimate that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health issue, and partnered with money problems, social media and relationships it is believed methods people are using to cope are getting worse, including self-harm.

There are many forms of mental health problems that many people don’t fully understand. We had a look at some of the more common mental health issues in the UK to shine a light on what different illnesses entail and remove some stigma.


Depression can be one of the most debilitating illnesses. In its mildest form those with depression can have low mood or spells where they feel everything is harder to do, but it does not stop a person leading their normal life. However, more severe cases of depression can prevent someone from leading a normal life and can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Anxiety and panic attacks

An increasingly common mental health issue – anxiety is used to describe feelings of unease, worry and fear. Encompassing emotional and physical sensations of worry, anxiety can become debilitating for some who can begin to worry about things that are a regular part of everyday life, including using the phone.

When anxiety reaches peak levels some people may suffer from a panic attack, this is your body’s exaggerated response to fear, stress or excitement.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Another form of anxiety, OCD has two main parts – obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions include unwelcome thoughts, images, urges and worries that repeatedly appear in your mind that can make you feel anxious. Compulsions are repetitive actions that you need to do to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsession. OCD can disrupt everyday life, relationships and can cause feelings of shame or loneliness.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

For those involved or witnesses of a traumatic event they can experience upsetting, disturbing or confusing feelings afterwards. At first it is common for people to simply feel numb before getting physical and emotional reactions including difficulties sleeping. Symptoms include vivid flashbacks, intrusive thoughts and images, nightmares and intense distress – symptoms can appear immediately or years after the event. 


Schizophrenia is not a split personality, rather a mixture of experiences and behaviours that can cause those living with the condition to put themselves in danger. Symptoms include feeling disconnected from feelings, difficulty concentrating, hallucinations and delusions, and disorganised thinking and speech. Those living with schizophrenia can find it difficult to carry on with day-to-day activities, feel worried or afraid when seeking help and suspicious or afraid of certain people or figures of authority.

If you want to find out more about the about illnesses or are looking for information for you, or someone you know, please visit the Mind website here.

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