Our mental health and wellbeing are essential for creating a well-balanced and happy life. Mental health problems are truly in the spotlight at the moment with statistics showing that mental health issues affect 1 in 4 people in the UK. Further still, it appears that common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder affect more people as they age. According to the Mental Health Foundation, key factors that affect the mental health and wellbeing of older people range from; discrimination, participation in meaningful activities, relationships, physical health and poverty.
Mental health problems can be triggered by a wide range of causes which occasionally can leave finding the source of mental health issues a challenge. Most likely there is a combination of factors. Lifestyle choices such as poor sleep, smoking and inadequate nutrition can also exacerbate problems further.
GPs tend to be the first port of call for those suffering from mental health issues, however, it is estimated that 85% of older people with depression receive no help at all from the NHS. Fortunately, there are many other support options out there to help people cope. Several services are available that can help you or someone you know with everything from housing to employment, legal rights to nursing care and carer support to help for young people.
Rethink – A great place to start is Rethink Mental Illness – a leading provider of mental health services in England, with over 200 services and a wide array of resources and support available. Their services include:
- Crisis houses
- Community support
- Supported housing
- Registered care
- Psychological therapies
In addition to their services, Rethink also provide valuable information about mental health conditions and symptoms, advice on how to support your wellbeing and physical health, and knowledge of what it is like to live with mental illness. They also provide a hub to support carers for those living with mental illness, as they truly understand how hard it can feel to support a loved one.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – With the frightening statistic that suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, CALM offer confidential and free support to men anywhere in the UK. Through a helpline and a webchat service, they talk through any issue and offer support, advice and signposting. As well as this they also spread their message to workplaces, universities, pubs, clubs and prisons across the country to ensure that people feel empowered to talk about mental health openly.
Complementary and alternative therapies – Talking therapies are extremely effective, but some people also find exploring other avenues of therapy equally beneficial. Complementary and alternative therapies typically take a holistic approach to your physical and mental health. They consider all aspects of your physical and emotional wellbeing, rather than treating particular symptoms separately.
Some evidence-based therapies include seeing a Nutritional Therapist, Herbalist, Naturopath, Acupuncturist or Massage therapist. You may also choose to attend classes for yoga or meditation, which have also shown benefits for improving mental health. To find an accredited practitioner head to the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).
Walk and Talk groups – As well as talking therapies and social interaction, studies now show that getting out in nature can be highly beneficial to those with mental health issues. Mental Health Mates is a network of peer support groups, run by people with mental health issues, who host regular walking and talking meetups. The groups can be found all over the country and are now spreading overseas due to surging popularity.