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Wonderful Websites – Mental Health and Mental Illness

By Health, The Web2 Comments
wonderful-websites-image This is the second blog post in a series titled Wonderful Websites. The first post focused on General Health websites and can be read here. This post focuses on the most wonderful websites for mental health and mental illness.

1. Mind’s website is a treasure trove of mental health and mental illness information. It has an A-Z listing of mental health conditions, information about treatments, advice on how to support someone with mental illness, legal advice, urgent help advice and stories of people with mental illness.

2. CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a movement against male suicide. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.

CALM offers support for men who are feeling low or in crisis. They campaign for a change in culture, encouraging men to talk about how they are feeling and aim to eliminate the stigma of men seeking help due to mental illness. They hope to prevent as many male suicides as possible and also offer support for those affected by suicide.

3. SANE is a mental health charity credited with the Black Dog Campaign and the #EndTheStigma hashtag. The phrase black dog comes from Winston Churchill who described his depression as a black dog. SANE has also worked with Ruby Wax who coined the term Black Dog Tribe.

4. Head Meds tells you everything you ever wanted to know about medications for mental illness. It also gives information about conditions and shares people stories of mental illness. What I particularly like about this website is that it tells you how the medications affect sex, alcohol, weight, sleep and just about everything else.

A useful website that I always visit before medication reviews or at times when there’s discussions about changing my medication.

5. Bipolar UK has a great online eCommunity. I use it all the time and find it a very useful resource. People on the eCommunity are friendly and share their experiences around a wide range of topics.

The eCommunity goes a long way to making you feel less isolated and reassures you that you’re not the only one to be experiencing what you are. They also have support groups that are run by volunteers who are people living with bipolar. I used to go to a local group before it shutdown and found it invaluable on my road to recovery.

6. The Samaritans offer support by telephone, in person, email or by writing to them. Their telephone number and email is open 24/7/365, being a lifeline to people in a mental illness crisis.

7. Time To Change aims to end mental health discrimination. They do so by education in schools and by supporting employers. They have a wealth of information online including myths/facts, conditions, how to support your friend and a quiz to test your knowledge on mental health.

8. The Mental Health Foundation’s website has some informative publications which you can download or order a printed copy. Their vision is for everyone in the UK to have good mental health.

9. Anxiety UK has been around since the 70s and provides a wide range resources around anxiety. It’s website is informative, they offer an info line, a text service and training to organisations and companies.

Are there any wonderful websites for mental health and mental illness that I’m missing? If so, please leave a comment.

In the next post in my Wonderful Websites series I’ll be listing shopping websites.

Blog soon,

Antony

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Mental Health Focus: How to support someone with Mental Illness

By Health, Thinking4 Comments
mental-health-focus Supporting someone with mental illness can be difficult. What should you say and not say? What should you do and not do?

First educate yourself around mental illness. Mental health charities Mind and SANE both have informative websites.

You can see General Statistics for Mental Health in the UK here. You can see a A list of Famous People who have experienced Mental Illness here. You can also see 15 Lies That Depression Would Have You Believe here.

Second: You must look after yourself. You can’t support anyone else if you are not well physically, mentally or emotionally. You may find my blog post 10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Mental Health useful.

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On to the practical advice to support someone with mental illness:

  • Stay in contact with them. Ask them how they would like you to keep in contact. Some may may prefer phoning or seeing; whereas others may prefer messaging or texting.
  • Unconditional love and care. Let them know that you love them unconditionally and care for them deeply. Don’t have any expectation that they will reciprocate.
  • Listen to what they say and don’t assume anything.
  • Ensure that there are no distractions when you are with them or on the phone to them. Put your phone on silent and make sure any loud children are pets are out of the way (if you have them).
  • Offer practical support. Go shopping for them or with them, help them to clean, cook them a meal. Whatever it is that they need. They maybe resistant to the idea of practical help, so reassure them that you are happy to help and that you know they’d do it for you.
  • Remind them to take their medication or when appointments are due. People with mental illness tend to have poor short term memories.
  • Ask them about their appetite and diet. If they have an appetite but are struggling to make anything (due to lack of energy and/or motivation), find out what there favourite meal is and cook it for them.
  • Offer distracting activities. Distracting activities that you can both do together can give someone a break from their own critical inner of voice. The activities can be something as simple as a walk around the park. Make sure you are always led by the person with mental illness though. If they say that they are too unwell or tired to do the activity, don’t take it personally. And certainly don’t judge them or take offence.
  • Help them access support. This could include going with them to GP, counselling sessions or mental health service appointments. Offer to sit in appointments with them, but let them know that it’s okay if they want to be seen alone.
  • Be understanding. Someone with mental illness may cancel plans at the last minute. You may arrive at their house to find it messy and them unclean. Don’t take it personally, let them know that you understand and ask if there is anyway that you can help.
  • Be patient. Like any illness, mental illness takes the right treatment, the right support and time for them to start to feel better.
  • Limit questions and time spent with them, if you feel they are exhausted and need to rest. You’ll be able to spot if they need to rest by: pulling on their hair, forgetting what you’ve said to them, being very slow to respond, unable to think of words, dropping of their head, shuffling of feet and other body language people use when they look like they are about to drop off to sleep.
  • Be aware of your own body language and theirs. Try and display open body language and avoid mirroring.
  • Try not to give advice, as often it is unrealistic and unhelpful. For example never advise someone with depression to exercise more or have an healthier diet. This person has probably used all of their energy and motivation to get out of the bed. This single action has left them more exhausted than they have ever felt in their life. So advising them to exercise, eat an healthier diet or make big changes to their life will seem unachievable and may come across as if you are blaming them for their depression.
  • Sign-post them to useful resources. Such as: NHS Choices, Time to Change, Mental Health Foundation, Mind, SANE, Anxiety UK and Bipolar UK.

This blog post is part of a series that focuses on mental health. Other posts in the series include: Mental Health Focus: Treatment & Recovery, Mental Health Focus: A List of Common Conditions and Mental Health Focus: 5 Brilliant TED Talks About Mental Health.

You can read about my experiences of mental illness here: Life Hiatus – My Mental Health In-Patient Admission and Diagnosis of a ‘Mood Disorder’, My Health Woes: Clinical Depression, Dental Abscesses, The Lump and The Emergency Surgery, Finally…in Recovery and getting Back to Life and Mental Health Focus: I’ve Been One of the 1 in 4.

Take care,

Antony

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I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:


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Mental Health Focus: A List of Common Conditions

By HealthNo Comments

I’ve wrote a series of Mental Health Focus blog posts to help to #EndTheStigma around mental health and to encourage others to talk openly and honestly about their own mental health. In this post I’ll give some information around common mental health conditions.


To find information about a condition quickly, by clicking the link: Addiction, Anxiety, Bipolar, Bereavement, Depression, Eating Disorders, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Schizophrenia & Stress. EMERGENCY HELP!


Addiction – Alcohol, Drugs, Sex, Gambling, etc.

Addiction is a strong, uncontrollable need to take drugs, drink alcohol or carry out a particular activity such as gambling.

It becomes the most important thing in your life and leads to problems at home, work and school.
There’s no single reason why addictions develop. Regularly drinking alcohol or using other substances, or spending time gambling or on the internet (including porn sites), may be pleasurable or relaxing. Some people experience these feelings particularly intensely and have a strong desire to repeat them more often.

You’re more at risk of developing an addiction if:
– other members of your family have addiction problems
– you experienced stress or abuse while growing up
– you have mental health problems

(From: NHS Choices, Last Accessed on 28th December 2014)

For more information visit: Talk to Frank, DrugScope, Drink Aware & Gamblers Anonymous.

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Anxiety

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

However, some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily life.

Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder (social phobia).

(From: NHS Choices, Last Accessed on 28th December 2014)

For more information visit: Anxiety UK & No Panic.

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Bipolar

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another.

If you have bipolar disorder, you will have periods or episodes of:
– depression – where you feel very low and lethargic
– mania – where you feel very high and overactive (less severe mania is known as hypomania)

Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you are experiencing. Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer), and some people may not experience a “normal” mood very often.

(From: NHS Choices, Last Accessed on 28th December 2014)

For more information visit: Bipolar UK.

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Bereavement

The death of someone close can be shattering. Everyone experiences grief differently; there is no ‘normal’ or ‘right’ way to grieve. How we react will be influenced by many different things, including our age and personality, our cultural background and religious beliefs, our previous experiences of
bereavement, our circumstances and how we cope with loss.

After a death you may initially feel shocked, numb, guilty, angry, afraid and full of pain. These feelings may change to feelings of longing, sadness, loneliness − even hopelessness and fear about the future.

These feelings are not unnatural, or wrong. They are all ‘normal’ reactions to what may be the most difficult experience of your life. Over time these feelings should lessen.

Every person’s experience of grief is unique…

(From: Cruse Bereavement Care – Has someone died? Restoring Hope, Last Accessed on 28th December 2014)

For more information visit: NHS Choices – Bereavement & Cruse Bereavement Care.

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Depression

Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days.

We all go through spells of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.

Some people still think that depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and it’s not a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together”…

Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms.

They range from lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.

There can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and complaining of various aches and pains.

The severity of the symptoms can vary. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while at its most severe depression can make you feel suicidal and that life is no longer worth living.

(From: NHS Choices, Last Accessed on 28th December 2014)

For more information visit: Depression Alliance.

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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour.

A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health.

Types of eating disorders
Eating disorders include a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially. 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
– 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)
– binge eating – when someone feels compelled to overeat

Some people, particularly young people, may be diagnosed with an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). This is means you have some, but not all, of the typical signs of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

(From: NHS Choices, Last Accessed on 28th December 2014)

For more information visit: beat.

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OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive activity.

An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person’s mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.

A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that someone feels they need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.

For example, someone with a fear of their house being burgled may feel they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave the house.

OCD symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some people with OCD may spend an hour or so a day engaged in obsessive-compulsive thinking and behaviour, but for others the condition can completely take over their life.

(From: NHS Choices, Last Accessed on 28th December 2014)

For more information visit: OCD Action & Mind – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

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Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition that causes a range of different psychological symptoms, including:
– hallucinations – hearing or seeing things that do not exist
– delusions – unusual beliefs not based on reality which often contradict the evidence
– muddled thoughts based on the hallucinations or delusions
– changes in behaviour

Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a psychotic illness. This means sometimes a person may not be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality.

(From: NHS Choices, Last Accessed on 28th December 2014)

For more information visit: Rethink: Schizophrenia.

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Stress

Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure.

Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.

Many of life’s demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. And, when you feel stressed, it can get in the way of sorting out these demands, or can even affect everything you do.

Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. In fact, common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.

You may feel anxious, irritable or low in self esteem, and you may have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more or act unreasonably.

You may also experience headaches, muscle tension or pain, or dizziness.

Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats – the so-called “fight or flight” response.

Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal. However, if you’re constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to the symptoms of stress.

(From: NHS Choices, Last Accessed on 28th December 2014)

For more information visit: Mind – How to manage stress & Mental Health Foundation – Stress.

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Emergency Help!
If you are experiencing an episode of poor mental health, two useful websites are: Mind and SANE. If you are feeling suicidal please visit your nearest A&E Department for crisis support. Back To Top

How do you manage your own mental and emotional health? Leave a comment below.

Write soon,

Antony

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I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:


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