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Mental health

What is mental health?

Mental health problems affect around one in four people in Britain and can affect the way you think, feel and behave. They range from common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, to more rare problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A mental health problem can feel just as bad, or worse, as any other physical illness – only you cannot see it. There are a lot of different approaches to how mental health problems should be diagnosed, what causes them and which treatments are most effective. However, despite these challenges, it is possible to recover from a mental health problem and live a productive and fulfilling life.

What barriers do people with poor mental health face?

Depression
Depression is a feeling of low mood that lasts for a long time and affects your everyday life. It can make you feel hopeless, despairing, guilty, worthless, unmotivated and exhausted. It can affect your self-esteem, sleep, appetite, sex drive and, sometimes, your physical health. In its mildest form, depression doesn’t stop you leading a normal life, but it makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can make you feel suicidal, and be life-threatening.

Anxiety
Anxiety refers to strong feelings of unease, worry and fear. Because occasional anxiety is a normal human experience, it's sometimes hard to know when it's becoming a mental health problem – but if your feelings of anxiety are very strong, or last for a long time, they can be overwhelming. You might experience constant worrying about things that are a regular part of everyday life, or about things that aren’t likely to happen.

Self-harm
Self-harm is when you hurt yourself on purpose. You usually do it because something else feels wrong. It seems like the only way to let those feelings out.

If you self-harm it is usually as a result of another problem. It can happen if you are feeling anxious, depressed, stressed or bullied and feel you don’t have any other way of dealing with these issues.

Sometimes it feels like no-one understands why you self-harm but lots more people today know about what the condition really means, and there is plenty of support available.

Case study

“I was initially referred by my tutor to the support coach team because I had a panic attack in class. I was extremely distressed initially. I had previously been seen for support around depression by my GP and was feeling extremely low when I first came in to college.

“I had self-harmed in the past occasionally but in the lead up to me starting college had been doing it more often. This was mainly because I found out that my birth mother had died and found it very difficult to deal with. I had been moved out of my mum’s care by social services when seven-years-old and was subsequently adopted. My mum’s death meant I felt both cheated and guilty that I would no longer be able to get in touch with her in the future and reconcile our relationship. I never knew who my real dad was as my mum never wanted to talk about him when I was younger. My relationship with my adoptive mum and dad was volatile and I felt very isolated when I first started college. All this meant I was very confused, stressed and carrying around a lot of anger. I was very emotional and did not want to make friends or let anyone else in to my world because I was frightened of losing them like I had my mum. At first I tended to overreact to situations and found it hard to control my temper which got me in to trouble both at home and college.

“The support coach team supported me on a weekly basis and occasionally more. They arranged immediate counselling intervention for me and I had six sessions of therapeutic counselling. During this time I knew I could go and see them at any time if I needed to offload. My confidence and trust in people grew on a weekly basis and I was able to get my life back on track and build more positive relationships both at home and at college. My self-harming reduced although I still sometimes struggle with it but I know where I can get help or just talk to someone.”

Top five tips

  • 1Connect
    Connect with the people around you: family, friends etc. You’re stronger with a network of people around you.
  • 2Be active
    Keep yourself active and take part in activities. This doesn’t mean go to the gym, it could be taking a walk or on a bike ride.
  • 3Keep learning
    Your education is important. Learning new skills and gaining a qualification is something to be proud of.
  • 4Be kind
    Even the smallest of acts can count; something as simple as smiling at others. Acts of kindness can improve your mental wellbeing. You could even do something big, such as volunteering.
  • 5Be mindful
    Being aware of yourself and your thoughts, feelings and mind can change the way you feel about life and how you approach situations.

Useful links

Why choose West Notts?

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100% A Level pass rate in 2018

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Best A Level provider in Mansfield and Ashfield for student progress*

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One of the top colleges in the UK for student satisfaction**

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An extensive bus service across Mansfield and the surrounding area

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£50m investment in our facilities since 2008

*Value added is a measure of a student’s progress against their starting point
**Learner Exit Survey 2017/18
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