Mental health and emotional wellbeing affect all aspects of our lives and health choices. Mental wellbeing is about feeling good and functioning well, as individuals and as communities. It is also about our ability to cope with life’s problems and making the most of life’s opportunities.
Good mental health is more than the absence of mental illness. It is the foundation for wellbeing. It is something you have to take care of, rather than take for granted.
Public mental health shifts the focus from mental illness to looking at how we can promote wellbeing. It is based on creating the right conditions for good mental health and wellbeing, and on ensuring early interventions are in place when things start to go wrong.
Focusing on mental health
The need to focus on mental health is not well documented. Mental health problems are common, costly and place a heavy burden on individuals, their families, friends and communities as well health and local authority resources.
- One in six adults will have a mental health problem at any one time – that is potentially 70,000 people in Somerset
- 50% of mental health problems start by the age of 14.
- One in ten children will have a mental health problem
- Mental health problems represent the largest cause of disability, with health and social care service costs at an estimated £22.5 billion and rising.
- Mental illness represents 23% of the total burden of disease in the UK more than cardiovascular disease or cancers.
- Mental health problems can be both the cause and the consequence of poor physical health. An anxious person, for example, is up to six times more likely to die of coronary heart disease.
Key areas of investment
Key areas of local public health investment in mental health and wellbeing currently include:
Training – including; Commissioning Mental Health First Aid courses, suicide prevention skills training and self harm awareness.
Promoting mental health through community projects – such as Five Ways to Wellbeing, Feel Better with a Book in Public libraries , Reading Well – Books on Prescription.
Early intervention with children – through the ‘Crystal Project’ aimed at parents whose children are showing early signs of disruptive behaviour.
Addressing stigma and discrimination – through supporting the national Time To Change Campaign.
Tackling domestic violence – visit the Somerset Survivors website including delivery of specialist groups for children who have witnessed domestic violence and training frontline staff in working with vulnerable children.
Campaigns and resource development – production of ‘Little book of mental health’, public distress card, World Mental Health Day, World Suicide Prevention Day.
Wellbeing is about how we think, feel and behave. Nobody feels blissfully happy and thinks positive thoughts all the time. Having high wellbeing is about being able to enjoy life and cope with its challenges. Understanding wellbeing is closely linked to understanding your experiences.
Experiencing a good balance of positive to negative emotions, and judging that your life is going well, are key parts of feeling good. Doing activities that help you to experience a sense of meaning and purpose, a sense of control over your own life, and strong relationships with others, are key parts of functioning well. Wellbeing research shows that experiencing positive emotions over time can build up these internal personal resources.
Five Ways to Wellbeing
The Five Ways to Wellbeing can help you remember and learn how to look after your wellbeing. They’re based on evidence from across the globe and they are:
With the people around you, with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Think of these relationships as the foundations of your life. Invest time in developing them. Building these connections will help support and enrich you every day.
- Be active
Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good., Discover an activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
- Take notice
Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Savour the moment. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.
- Keep learning
Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to cook something new. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving, not one that is a chore. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can rewarding and will create connections with the people around you.
Mental health support
Looking after your state of mind is just as important as taking care of your body, yet most of us manage our physical health far better than our mental health. As soon as we feel a physical ache or pain we generally try to do something about it, but when we find ourselves feeling very low or stressed we tend to think it is just part and parcel of life and don’t do anything to improve the situation. There is lots you can do on your own or with the help and support of others to help change your situation around.
If you do feel down, anxious or distressed, you are not alone. One in four of us experience a mental health problem in any one year.
Wellbeing isn’t something you have, but something you do. To help you find out more see the list of places to find information, advice, support and inspiration to promote good mental health and wellbeing.
Action for Happiness
Moodscope – lift your mood
Five Ways To Wellbeing
NCALM – campaign against living miserably
Change4Life – helps you and your family to be healthier
Mental Health Foundation
Men’s Health Forum – covers all aspects of men’s health
Mind – the mental health charity
Rethink Mental Illness – focuses on severe mental illness
Samaritans – confidential emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts
Time To Change – campaign to end mental health discrimination
Young Minds – supports children, young people and their families
Relate – Help with family life and parenting
The Silver Line
Cruse Bereavement Care