The World Health Organisation (2014) defines mental health as ‘a unified state of mental, physical and social well-being, where a person can achieve their potential, is able to effectively contribute to the community, and can handle the stresses of normal life’.
Your mental wellbeing is on a continuum; it is neither good nor bad. We all have days where our mental wellbeing fluctuates and where we can feel particularly elated or down.
Enjoying good mental health and wellbeing helps us to deal with the stresses of everyday life. However 1 in 4 people is affected by a mental health problem in any year. Finding out more about some of the mental health problems people might face could help you to feel more confident when trying to support someone.
Mental Health Problems
There is a variety of mental health problems that a person can experience. The NHS's website provides further details on the following issues:
- Anxiety disorders happen when someone has feelings of anxiety that are very strong or last for a long time.
- Bipolar disorder is characterised by the experience of swings between a low mood and a high, manic mood, usually with more normal phases in between.
- Depression is characterised by the persistence of feelings of sadness or misery.
- Eating disorders can occur when someone has a difficult and unhealthy relationship with food, and often co-exist with depression or anxiety disorders.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder where unwanted thoughts, urges and repetitive activities become an obstacle to the person's ability to live life as they want.
- Personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) occur when a person's personality traits cause regular, long-term problems in the way they cope with life.
- Schizophrenia is a mental illness that occurs when the parts of the brain that are responsible for emotion and sensation stop functioning properly.
- Find out more about mental health problems and read blogs and personal stories on the Time to Change website.
The World Health Organisation’s definition of mental health moves beyond simply the absence of mental illness, but includes the presence of emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. People who enjoy high levels of wellbeing are described as flourishing. In this context, flourishing means that the person enjoys feelings of happiness, contentment and curiosity and is able to engage fully with what is going on around them. Flourishing also means functioning well in the world; the person experiences positive relationships, has some control over their life, and has a sense of purpose.
The Mental Capital and Wellbeing project identified the drivers to wellbeing, and the New Economics Foundation (NEF) named the Five Ways to Wellbeing to communicate these: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.
Find out more
- If you have been diagnosed with a long term Mental Health condition, please contact the Disability and Dyslexia team to register with our service and find out what additional support you might be eligible for. You can also apply for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) by going to the following link where you can download an application form.
- The University’s Wellbeing Team provides further information on mental health and wellbeing.
- Health Assured provide a 24-hour confidential helpline: 0800 028 3766. The health and wellbeing smartphone app from Health Assured also provides an enhanced set of wellbeing tools and engagement features. The My Healthy Advantage mobile app is available from the App Store and the Google Play Store.
- Time to Change was a social movement to change the way people think and act about mental health problems. The campaign started in 2007 and closed at the end of March 2021. The website is still online and has useful information and personal stories about mental health problems.
- Rethink Mental illness provides further information on the types of mental health problems people might face.