Mental health support

How to get support for anxiety, depression and your mental health.

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Please note: If you are feeling distressed, in a state of despair, suicidal or need emotional support you can phone Samaritans for free on 116 123. If you're ill and feel it can't wait until your GP practice reopens you can phone the NHS 24 111 service. For an emergency ambulance phone 999.

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At adbra, we’re not mental health professionals, we’re individuals who have experienced mental health challenges and researched ways to develop habits to build better mental resilience.

We understand from personal experience how important it is to raise awareness of mental health issues and wanted to make sure we included some key links for those who need support which is why we’ve put together this article.

 

The article is intended to raise awareness and is not intended to be medical advice or a method of self-diagnosis and you should always seek help from a medical professional. If you’re based in the US, you may want to consult the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Common mental health questions
Image by Emily Morter

Firstly, it’s important to note that mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety are really common - national statistics show that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health issue of some kind every year in England.

We’ll address some common questions such as:

 

Mental health

  • What is mental health?

  • How common are mental health issues?

Anxiety

  • What are anxiety symptoms?

  • What are anxiety attack symptoms?

  • What causes anxiety?

  • What can help reduce my anxiety?

Depression

  • What are the most common signs of depression?

  • What causes depression?

  • What can help reduce my depression?

  • Can I have anxiety and depression at the same time?

Supporting others

  • What can I do to support others with mental health issues?

We've also included:

 

Getting help

40 helplines and specialist organisations

Breathing exercises

Mental health
Image by Jan Huber

What is mental health?

Everyone has mental health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as ‘a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’.

 

 

How common are mental health issues?

To give you an idea, here are some UK mental health statistics:

 

  • It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health issue.

  • Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis.

  • 4-10% of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime.

  • Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

  • In 2014, 19.7% of people in the UK aged 16 and over showed symptoms of anxiety or depression - a 1.5% increase from 2013. This percentage was higher among females (22.5%) than males (16.8%.)

  • 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.2.

For more statistics like these, see the Mental Health Foundation website.

Mental health diagnosis

 

If you are experiencing a mental health challenge, it can be helpful to seek a diagnosis with help from your GP. This may feel daunting but speaking to a mental health professional will ensure you receive the right treatment if you need it. We've included information on how to register with a GP further down.

 

In this article we’ll cover some questions relating to anxiety and depression, two of the more common mental health challenges.

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Anxiety
 
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What are anxiety symptoms?

 

Experiencing anxiety is normal. It’s when the feeling of anxiety increases and starts to have an impact on the way you live your life, that you may feel you need support. 

 

Symptoms of anxiety range from mental to physical and your anxiety may lead to changes in your behaviour.

 

You may feel:

  • nervous or tense

  • worried

  • emotional

  • unable to relax or get to sleep

Physical symptoms include:

  • feeling dizzy

  • loss of appetite

  • a headache

  • racing heartbeat

  • tight chest or chest pain

If you’re anxious you may not enjoy things that you used to, you may find it hard to concentrate and to maintain relationships. It might also lead you to avoid going out or avoiding things that take you outside your comfort zone.

 

There are some articles citing a difference in anxiety symptoms in women and men. We are yet to see any strong evidence on particular gender differences but there may be societal pressures that lead to different behaviours when different genders experience anxiety.

 

If you feel as if anxiety is impacting your life negatively, we’ve put together some ways to reduce anxiety and support services further down.

 

What are anxiety attack symptoms?

 

An anxiety attack or panic attack is when is the term used to describe the experience of a sudden rush of anxiety that may lead to:

  • shortness of breath

  • dizziness

  • nausea

  • sweating or trembling

  • feeling like you are losing control

 

This could last a few minutes or much longer. If you are suffering from an attack like this, it may help to practice some breathing exercises. We've detailed some further down. It may also help to talk to someone. We've also put together a list of helplines and specialist organisations further down.

 

What causes anxiety?

 

There are many different possible causes for anxiety and everyone will experience anxiety in different ways. You may have anxiety about health, relationships or work or there may be something else that triggers the feeling that is harder to pinpoint. This is normal and it may take time to understand the causes.

 

You might also be wondering if anxiety is genetic. Research suggests that anxiety may be hereditary but it is also influenced by the environment you spend your time in or have spent time in, in the past.

 

The US National Institute for Mental Health suggests that anxiety risk factors vary but include:

 

  • Temperamental traits of shyness or behavioural inhibition in childhood

  • Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood

  • A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological relatives

  • Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias, or caffeine or other substances/medications, can produce or aggravate anxiety symptoms; a physical health examination is helpful in the evaluation of a possible anxiety disorder.

More details about the potential causes can also be found on the Mind charity website.

If you are worried about anxiety in children, you may find helpful information on the Young Minds website.

What can help reduce my anxiety?

 

 

 

For low or moderate symptoms of anxiety, there are several different approaches that are recommended when it comes to reducing or treating anxiety.

Self-help

Anxiety self help methods include reading, journalling and activities such as mindfulness. 

There are some anxiety management books and workbooks available that can help you explore some of the theory that would be included in more formal anxiety treatment. We’ve compiled some recommended reads on each of our well-being resource pages.

 

Journalling can act as a release for anxious thoughts and feelings that are on your mind. This can be done using a blank sheet of paper or use a journal or planner.

 

There are some self-help apps you also might want to try - we have also listed some on each of our well-being resources pages. Those recommended by the NHS are listed here.

 

Talking therapy

Talking to someone can be extremely helpful if you are feeling anxious. You may be comfortable talking to a friend, colleague or relative. If you’d like to talk to someone else, there are several different types of talking therapies available to help treat anxiety such as CBT and art therapy. Rethink Mental Illness have detailed each type along with guidance on what to expect from the NHS, your rights and options.

If you’d like to talk to someone without GP referral, there are a wide range of FREE helplines which we’ve listed further down.

 

We've found peer support groups such as Mental Health Mates helpful to 'walk and talk' and the charity now has walks in international locations. Check the website to find one near you.

Online courses

If you’d prefer to take an online course there is one on mindfulness by the Mental Health Foundation for £30. Your GP may also be able to refer you to to use other apps and training courses, free on the NHS.

 

Medication

After consulting with your GP they may suggest medication to relieve anxiety symptoms. We’ve included information on how to register at a GP in further down.

If you have questions on medications, your GP will be able to answer them. Mind charity have also put together some useful information on mental health medications here.

Please note: If you are feeling distressed, in a state of despair, suicidal or need emotional support you can phone Samaritans for free on 116 123. If you're ill and feel it can't wait until your GP practice reopens you can phone the NHS 24 111 service. For an emergency ambulance phone 999.

 
Depression
Image by Natalia Y

Please note: If you are feeling distressed, in a state of despair, suicidal or need emotional support you can phone Samaritans for free on 116 123. If you're ill and feel it can't wait until your GP practice reopens you can phone the NHS 24 111 service. For an emergency ambulance phone 999.

What are the most common signs of depression?

 

Feeling down is a common feeling. Depression is when you feel down for a prolonged period of time, maybe weeks or months. Depression statistics for the UK (from the Royal College of Psychiatrists) found that about 20% of people will become depressed at some point in their lives.

 

Depression symptoms range from feeling:

  • down and experiencing low mood

  • unhappy

  • hopeless

  • emotional

Depression may also bring about physical symptoms of:

  • tiredness

  • difficulty sleeping

  • body aches and pains

  • lack of energy

Living with depression may mean that you find it difficult to experience enjoyment or struggle to do everyday things.

 

Similar to anxiety, there are some reports that depression in men may be experienced differently to women. We are yet to see any strong evidence on particular gender differences but there may be societal pressures that lead to different behaviours when different genders experience depression.

 

If you feel like you are depressed, we’ve put together some ways to reduce depression and support services below further down.

 

What causes depression?

 

Many think depression originates from a chemical imbalance in the brain but it is more complex as discussed by Harvard in this article where they highlight influences on depression such as:

  • genetics

  • loss and trauma

  • stressful life events

  • health conditions

  • medication

 

What can help reduce my depression?

 

 

 

 

 

For low or moderate symptoms of depression, there are several different approaches that are recommended when it comes to reducing or treating depression.

 

Self-help

Self-help methods may help reduce depression symptoms such as exercise, healthy eating and drinking and establishing a daily routine.

 

Talking therapy

Talking to someone might be difficult if you are feeling depressed but can be extremely helpful. You may be comfortable talking to a friend, colleague or relative. If you’d like to talk to someone else, there are several different types of talking therapies available to help treat anxiety such as CBT and counselling. Rethink Mental Illness has detailed each type here along with guidance on what to expect from the NHS, your rights and options.

If you’d like to talk to someone without referral, there are a wide range of FREE helplines which we’ve listed further down.

 

Medication

If you receive a depression diagnosis after consulting with your GP they may recommend medication. We’ve included information on how to register at a GP further down.

 

Mind charity have also put together specific medication information on medication such as antidepressants.

 

Can I have anxiety and depression at the same time?

 

Yes. Depression with anxiety at the same time is very common. The good news is that their treatments are often very similar. Anxiety may occur as a symptom of depression and vice versa.

 
 
Supporting others
 
Image by Tim Mossholder

What can I do to support others with mental health issues?

 

There are different ways that you can support those with depression, anxiety or other mental health problems. The best way to provide support is to simply be there, without judgement. For someone going through mental health challenges, just knowing there is someone who cares and is willing to listen, is extremely valuable.

 

In the workplace

Some workplaces provide mental health awareness and mental health first aid training. Ask your employer if there are any programmes you can get involved in.

 

If you'd like to find out about mental health legislation, you can read more about the UK’s mental health act which was updated in 2007:

 

A mental health condition may become a disability. For more information on the legislation surrounding this check here. The equality act was created to protect characteristics such as disability in the workplace and may be a helpful resource.

Getting help
 

Your GP and the UK’s National Health Service provide healthcare support for anyone suffering from mental health issues. Find out

how to register with a GP.

How do I talk to my GP about my mental health and what support can I expect?

Mind have put together an A-Z of mental health issues that can be useful if you’re looking to find out more about your feelings or your diagnosis which might help with your GP appointments.

40 mental health helplines & specialist organisations

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Image by Quino Al
 

There are lots of mental health charities and support organisations in the UK, often run by those who have lived and professional experience of particular issues. You may feel shame or embarrassment about reaching out for help. The following organisations speak to people just like you on a daily basis and could help you talk through your challenges, answer your questions or point you towards resources and support.

Anxiety UK

Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.

Phone: 03444 775 774 (Mon - Fri, 9.30am - 5.30pm)

 

Bipolar UK

A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.

CALM

Campaign Against Living Miserably. A charity providing a mental health helpline and webchat.

Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm - midnight)

Men's Health Forum

Support for male health.

 

Mental Health Foundation

Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.

Mental Health Mates

Peer support network of local walks and safe space for those dealing with mental health challenges.

Mind

Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.

Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 6pm)

Specific support Mind offers for young black men.

No Panic

Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Offers a course to help overcome your phobia or OCD.

Phone: 0300 772 9844 (daily, 10am - 10pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider's Access Charge

 

OCD Action

Support for people with OCD. Includes information on treatment and online resources.

Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm). Calls cost 5p per minute plus your phone provider's Access Charge

OCD UK

A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.

Phone: 0333 212 7890 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm)

PAPYRUS

Young suicide prevention society.

Phone: 0800 068 4141 (daily, 9am - midnight)

 

Rethink Mental Illness

Support and advice for people living with mental illness.

Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon - Fri, 9.30am - 4pm)

 

Samaritans

Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)

 

The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network (BAATN)

Offer free and subsidised therapy for people of colour.

Black Minds Matter

Waitlist currently closed for therapy but providing resources on Instagram.

SANE

Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers. 

 

YoungMinds

Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.

Phone: Parents' helpline 0808 802 5544 (Mon - Fri, 9.30am - 4pm)

NSPCC

Children's charity dedicated to ending child abuse and child cruelty.

Phone: 0800 1111 for Childline for children (24-hour helpline)

0808 800 5000 for adults concerned about a child (24-hour helpline)

 

Refuge

Advice on dealing with domestic violence.

Phone: 0808 2000 247 (24-hour helpline)

 

Alcoholics Anonymous

A free self-help group. Its "12 step" programme involves getting sober with the help of regular face-to-face and online support groups.

Phone: 0800 917 7650 (24-hour helpline)

 

Al-Anon

Al-Anon is a free self-help “12 step” group for anyone whose life is or has been affected by someone else's drinking

Phone: 0800 0086 811 (daily, 10am - 10pm)

 

Drinkline

A free confidential helpline for people worried about their own or someone else's drinking.

Phone: 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am - 8pm, weekends 11am - 4pm)

 

National Association for Children of Alcoholics

Free confidential advice and information to everyone affected by a parent’s drinking including children, adults and professionals.

Phone: 0800 358 3456 (Fri - Mon 12pm - 7pm and Tues - Thurs 12pm - 9pm)

SMART Recovery UK

Face-to-face and online groups help people decide whether they have a problem with alcohol and drugs, build up their motivation to change, and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery.

Phone: 0330 053 6022 for general enquiries about SMART Recovery UK (9am - 5pm, Mon - Fri)

Alzheimer's Society

Provides information on dementia, including factsheets and helplines.

Phone: 0300 222 1122 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm and 10am - 4pm on weekends)

Cruse Bereavement Care

Phone: 0808 808 1677 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm)

 

Rape Crisis

To find your local services phone: 0808 802 9999 (daily, 12pm - 2.30pm and 7pm - 9.30pm)

 

Victim Support

For people affected by crime and traumatic events in England and Wales.

Phone: 0808 168 9111 (24-hour helpline)

Cocaine Anonymous

A free self-help group. Its "12 step" programme involves stopping using cocaine and all other mind-altering substances with the help of regular face-to-face and online support groups.

Phone: 0800 612 0225 (daily, 10am - 10pm)

 

FRANK

Free, confidential information and advice about drugs, their effects and the law. FRANK's live chat service runs daily from 2pm - 6pm.

Phone: 0300 1236600 (24-hour helpline)

Text a question to: 82111

 

Marijuana Anonymous

A free self-help group. Its "12 step" programme involves stopping using marijuana with the help of regular face-to-face and online support groups.

Phone: 0300 124 0373 (callback service)

Narcotics Anonymous

A free self-help group. Its "12 step" programme involves stopping using drugs with the help of regular face-to-face and online support groups.

Phone: 0300 999 1212 (daily, 10am - midnight)

SMART Recovery UK

Face-to-face and online groups help people decide whether they have a problem with alcohol and drugs, build up their motivation to change, and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery.

Phone: 0330 053 6022 (9am to 5pm, Mon - Fri)

Beat

For those dealing with eating disorders.

Phone: 0808 801 0677 (adults) or 0808 801 0711 (for under-18s)

Gamblers Anonymous

A free self-help group. Its "12 step" programme involves stopping gambling with the help of regular face-to-face and online support groups.

Phone: 0330 094 0322 (24-hour)

Gam-Anon

For those affected by someone else’s gambling with the help of regular face-to-face and online support groups.

Phone: 08700 50 88 80

 

National Gambling Helpline

Phone: 0808 8020 133 (daily, 8am - midnight)

National Problem Gambling Clinic

A specialist NHS clinic for problem gamblers aged 13 and over.

Phone: 020 7381 7722 (callback)

 

Mencap

Charity working with people with a learning disability, their families and carers.

Phone: 0808 808 1111 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 5pm)

 

Family Lives

Advice on all aspects of parenting, including dealing with bullying.

Phone: 0808 800 2222 (Mon - Fri, 9am - 9pm and weekends, 10am - 3pm)

Relate

The UK's largest provider of relationship support.

 

Breathing exercises

If you’re breathing quickly during a panic attack, doing a breathing exercise can ease your other symptoms. They can also be helpful to practice anytime.

 

Try this:

  • breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose

  • breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth

  • some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in-breath and each out-breath

  • close your eyes and focus on your breathing

You should start to feel better in a few minutes. You may feel tired afterwards. 

This exercise was created by NHS Scotland.

No Panic recommend listening to this track.

A helpful video:

Further resources such as self-help app and book recommendations can be found on our Resource page.