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What is mental health?

Being mentally healthy doesn’t just mean that you don’t have a mental health problem.
If you’re in good mental health, you can:

  • Make the most of your potential
  • Cope with life
  • Play a full part in your family, workplace, community and among friends

Some people call mental health ‘emotional health’ or ‘well-being’ and it’s just as important as good physical health.

Mental health is everyone’s business.

Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life to serious long-term conditions. The majority of people who experience mental health problems can get over them or learn to live with them, especially if they get help early on.

Everyone is different. You may bounce back from a setback while someone else may feel weighed down by it for a long time.

Your mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your life.

Your mental health can also change due to:

  • a housing concern
  • employment matters
  • benefits issues
  • family breakdown
  • immigration problems
  • other external factors.

If you are experiencing one of the above concerns or require help for a specific issue, please click on the directory link and enter your postcode to see what organisations may support you.

Health and Social Care Directory - Mental Health General support

In all cases, one of your first stops should be your GP. They will be familiar with your medical history and will be able to direct you to any appropriate treatment if required which may include referring you to a specialist Mental Health Service.

Staying mentally healthy

Enjoying mental health means:

  • having a sense of wellbeing
  • being able to function during everyday life
  • feeling confident to rise to a challenge when the opportunity arises.

Just like your physical health, there are actions you can take to increase your mental health. Boost your wellbeing and stay mentally healthy by following a few simple steps:

Connect with others:

Develop and maintain strong relationships with people around you who will support and enrich your life. The quality of our personal relationships has a great effect on our wellbeing. Set aside time for activities, hobbies and projects you enjoy. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes, you could:

  • Do a crossword
  • take a walk in your local park
  • read a book
  • sew a quilt
  • draw pictures with your kids
  • play with your pets

Do whatever takes your fancy

Participate and share interests:

Join a club or group of people who share your interests. Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for your mental health.

Join a:

  • sports club
  • band
  • walking group
  • dance class
  • theatre or choir group
  • book
  • car club

Contribute to your community:
There are many great ways to contribute that can help you feel good about yourself and your place in the world.

Volunteer your time for a cause or issue that you care about. Help out a neighbour, work in a community garden or do something nice for a friend.

Take care of yourself:
Be active and eat well - these help maintain a healthy body. Physical and mental health is closely linked; it's easier to feel good about life if your body feels good.
You don't have to go to the gym to exercise- gardening, vacuuming, dancing and walking

Challenge yourself:
Learn a new skill or take on a challenge to meet a goal.

You could:

  • take on something different at work
  • commit to a fitness goal
  • learn to cook a new recipe

  • Learning improves your mental fitness, while striving to meet your own goals builds skills, confidence and gives you a sense of progress and achievement.

    Deal with stress- Be aware of what triggers your stress and how you react. You may be able to avoid some of the triggers and learn to prepare for or manage others.

    Stress is a part of life and affects people in different ways. It only becomes a problem when it makes you feel uncomfortable or distressed.

    A balanced lifestyle can help you manage stress better. If you have trouble winding down, you may find that relaxation breathing, yoga or meditation can help.

    Rest and refresh: Get plenty of sleep as sleep restores both your mind and body. Go to bed at a regular time each day and practice good habits to get better sleep.

    However, feelings of fatigue can still set in if you feel constantly rushed and overwhelmed when you are awake. Allow yourself some unfocussed time each day to refresh; for example, let your mind wander, daydream or simply watch the clouds go by for a while.
    It's OK to add 'do nothing' to your to-do list!

    Notice the here and now:
    Take a moment to notice each of your senses each day. Simply 'be' in the moment- feel the sun and wind on your face and notice the air you are breathing.

    It's easy to be caught up thinking about the past or planning for the future instead of experiencing the present. Practising mindfulness, by focusing your attention on being in the moment, is a good way to do this.

    Making a conscious effort to be aware of your inner and outer world is important for your mental health.

    Ask for help
    This can be as simple as asking a friend to babysit while you have some time out or speaking to your doctor (GP) about where to find a counsellor or community mental health service.

    The perfect, worry-free life does not exist. Everyone's life journey has bumpy bits and the people around you can help.

    If you don't get the help you need first off, keep asking until you do.

    Self-Assessment Tool for mental health