A ‘mental illness’ is when somebody’s thinking, feelings or behaviour change significantly, especially where these changes have a damaging effect on their daily lives or cause distress to themselves or to other people.
If someone has always had a problem in their thinking, feeling or behaviour, then this is not usually called mental illness. It may a developmental problem or a difficulty with their personality (sometimes called a personality disorder).
Mental health is the opposite – it means mental wellbeing, good mental functioning or having no particular problems in thinking, feelings or behaviour.
These definitions over-simplify things. We all experience changes in our feelings, thinking and behaviour, and there is no clear cut off between illness and health. Also someone may have problems which fit the definition of a mental illness, but be very healthy mentally in other ways.
Mental health problems can affect any of us at any time in our lives, so there’s no need to be embarrassed about asking for help. Looking after our mental health is just as important as looking after our physical wellbeing.
The agencies in Powys who provide mental health services use a ‘recovery approach’ in their work.
‘Recovery’ is about helping people stay in control of their lives despite a mental health problem by building the resilience of people with mental health problems, and not just treating or managing their symptoms. The process may take a long time, and may not be smooth or predictable – it will vary from person to person. The main aim is to give hope that it is possible to have a meaningful life, despite serious mental illness.
The recovery model aims to help people with mental health problems to look beyond just ‘surviving’ and emphasises that, while someone may not have full control over their symptoms, they can still have full control over their life.
First, go to see your GP. There are lots of things they can do to help. If you need more in-depth help, they will be able to refer you to the Primary Mental Health staff who help people who have:
If you need longer term support, you will usually be referred to the local Community Mental Health Team, where you will have access to health staff and social workers.
Links to other websites:
www.powysmentalhealth.org.uk/ - Powys Association for Mental Health
www.advocacy-in-powys.org.uk/ - Independent Advocacy services for people with Mental Health difficulties.