Everyone is aware of mental health in that sometimes you feel extremely happy and other times you feel a little down. But not everyone is aware of at what point the way you are feeling can be attributed to having a poorer state of mental health than usual. For physical health we can identify when we are just feeling tired and when something really is wrong and we need to seek help. Mental health should be treated in the same way, your reaction to realising something may be wrong should be to seek professional advice. Here are some signs to help you identify when it may be time to talk to someone:
A continuous state of unhappiness or depression
-If you are lacking energy, losing interest in the things you used to enjoy, feeling irritable or sad for a few weeks or more you should talk to someone.
Constantly worrying or feeling anxious
-Many people get worried for different reasons every now and again but if it is beginning to dictate what you do and overwhelm you then it is time to seek advice. Symptoms of anxiety include: heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headaches, restlessness, diarrhoea or a racing mind.
Having problems sleeping
-On average we need 7-9 hours sleep each night. Continuous issues with sleeping patterns could be a symptom of a mental illness. Sleeping too much or too little may indicate depression or a sleeping disorder.
Experiencing emotional outbursts
-We all have changes in our moods, but sudden and dramatic changes can be a symptom of a mental illness.
Change in weight or appetite
-Whilst there are reasons behind gradual change in weight or appetite for different people depending on their lifestyle habits, a sudden change in weight or appetite could represent a warning sign of a mental illness.
Loss in interest of social activities
-Every now and again we prefer our own company to others but if you or someone you know begins withdrawing from all social activities this can be a sign of mental health illness.
Feelings of guilt and low self-worth
-Thinking that things are “all your fault” or that “you’re worthless” are possible signs of a mental health issue. In severe cases this may include wanting to hurt yourself and suicidal thoughts. It is important to talk to someone if you are feeling this way.
Abusive use of substances
-Drinking too much or using drugs may be used as a coping mechanism and could also be a sign of distress.
The following helplines are available on Mind’s website: mind.org.uk
- · If you are in Coventry and Warwickshire, you can contact Mental Health Matters on 0800 616 171 (24 hours a day/ 7 days a week)
- · If you're experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else,you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day).
- · If you're under 25, you can call The Mix on 0808 808 4994 (Sunday-Friday 2pm–11pm), request support by email using this form on The Mix websiteor use their crisis text messenger service.
- · If you identify as male, you can call the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)on 0800 58 58 58 (5pm–midnight every day) or use their webchat service.
- · If you're a student, you can look on the Nightline websiteto see if your university or college offers a night-time listening service. Nightline phone operators are all students too.
- · If you live in Wales, you can call the Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L).on 0800 123 737 (open 24/7) or you can text 'help' followed by a question to 81066.
- · For online peer support: https://www.elefriends.org.uk
- · For more options, visit the Helplines Partnershipwebsite for a directory of UK helplines. Mind’s Infoline can also help you find services that can support you. If you're outside the UK, befrienders.org lists emotional support helplines around the world.
Running for Mind
On Sunday 22 April, I took part in this year's London Marathon. My goal was to raise £1,000 for Mind, as well as to run 26.2 miles around one of my favourite cities.
I remember watching the London Marathon on the television as a child, full of admiration for the people taking part, dreaming that I might get to take part in it one day and, of course, looking out for familiar faces (famous and unknown) on the screen.
Despite those dreams, it was only in adulthood that I stared entering races. Initially, I took part in 5K races to raise money for charity. Gradually I built up to 10K races and, eventually, half marathons.
Each year I would enter the ballot for a London Marathon, taking my chances along with hundreds and thousands of hopeful entrants, and each year I received the 'sorry you haven't got a place' letter. That was, until October 2016, when the letter I had been hoping for arrived.... congratulations, it said, you're in!
I immediately decided that I would run for Mind. A dear friend of mine, Fog, had died in the summer of 2014 and Mind had been his family's chosen charity. That decision made, I set up a fundraising page, downloaded a training plan and hit the pavements.
My training was going really well until the spring of 2017, when I picked up an unfortunate knee injury. The good news was that my knee hadn't suffered any structural damage, the bad news was that recovery times for injuries like mine were unpredictable. I deferred my London Marathon place and crossed my fingers that I would be back training in time for the 2018 London Marathon.
It was during the months that I couldn't run that I realised how much I relied on running to release the stresses and strains of everyday life. I was one of the lucky ones though, and by September 2017, I was able to start my training again. It was very strange to start with, I couldn't even run 5K. Slowly, but surely, the distance I could cover increased and I started to believe that I would make it around the marathon, even if I had to walk some of the way.
The winter of 2017/2018 wasn't great for those of us with marathon places, but I held fast to the dream of completing the London Marathon and stuck to my training plan despite the snow and rain.
April 2018 arrived, marathon day got closer, and the weather improved. The improvement was so great, that the 2018 London Marathon was the hottest to date.
I can honestly say that the London Marathon was the most wonderful experience. It exceeded all my expectations and I will admit to squealing with joy as I crossed Tower Bridge! Along the way I met the most incredible people, many of whom were running to raise money for charities close to their hearts. The sense of community I shared with the other Mind runners and the amazing Mind supporters helped to keep my spirits raised. I enjoyed every moment of the race, which is just as well as it took me 6 hours and 34 minutes to get to the finish line!
Thanks to my amazing family, friends and colleagues, not only did I achieve my ambition of completing the London Marathon, but I also smashed my fundraising target. So far I have raised over £3,000!
Dr Jennifer Unsworth