04 May 2018

Taking steps to make sure you know the signs of mental health problems in yourself and others can save lives.

NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is reminding us to be aware of mental health issues. With 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem every year and nearly 3 in 4 young people fearful of the reactions of friends when they talk about their mental health, knowing the signs of mental health issues and where to get help has never been so important.

On 26th April 2018, the CCG will be out across St Helens for Talkfest, talking to people about mental health services and mental health issues in St Helens.

Dr Laura Pogue, local GP and mental health lead in St Helens said: “Mental health issues are very common in our local area and it is important that we are all aware of the signs to look out for. Here are five key signs to watch out for in yourself or others which might show you could have a mental health issue… “​

1. Removing yourself or avoiding social situations

You might suddenly notice yourself avoiding social occasions with friends and family that would normally be something you like to go to.

“Having down days is a normal part of life, and usually these feelings will pass without having any major impact on your life. But if the feelings don't go away after a couple of weeks, keep coming back or get worse, and you don’t enjoy things you normally would, it could be a sign that you're experiencing depression,” says Dr Pogue.

2. Trouble with sleep

Many people living with depression can find it difficult to wake up in the morning and might sleep more than usual. This can then lead to feeling exhausted and that carrying out everyday activities can seem more difficult than usual.

People with anxiety and stress often report that they struggle to get to sleep or wake up more in the night worrying about things.

“There is a close relationship between sleep and mental health, and sleep deprivation can also make your mental health worse.”

3. Trouble concentrating

Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating in the way you usually would and finding it difficult to remember things that would normally be straight forward for you, can be a sign that your mind is preoccupied with a mental health problem.

“If you find your concentration is worse than usual, or that you’re having trouble with things like punctuality and decision-making at work or school, this might be a symptom of stress or depression.”

4. The physical side

A common misunderstanding is that just because a mental health problem is psychological it does not affect you physically. Many people with anxiety or stress can also experience physical symptoms like nausea, abdominal cramps, headaches, sweating and panic attacks.

Dr Pogue said “If you are experiencing any of these signs regularly, it could be linked to your mental health”.

5. Feeling removed or numb

“If you are experiencing a mental health problem like depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it is possible to lose your sense of reality and begin to feel removed from your day-to-day life,” explains Dr Pogue. “This can mean people find it difficult to connect to their surroundings and other people.”

“For example, you might be sitting in a meeting at work and find it difficult to keep up with what people are saying, or feel as though you’re not really there.”

Anybody can be affected by mental health; if you think you are experiencing a mental health problem, there are lots of ways you can get help such as;

  • Speak to someone you know and trust, like a friend or family member
  • Visit a GP who can talk you through support and treatment options
  • If you are over 16, you can self-refer to the local ‘Minds Matter’ service by calling 01744 647 100
  • For younger peoples, the online service BOSS provides online counselling and instant chat advice. It also has information for carers, parents and professionals. Visit https://www.boss-sthelens.co.ukto find out more

How can you get involved in #Talkfest?

Take the Survey

The CCG wants to know about your knowledge and experience of mental health issues.

You can get involved by completing this survey, which asks about what mental health means to you and asks for your ideas about what we need in the town.

Follow us on social media

On the 26th April, look out for #Talkfest on Twitter and Facebook, you can learn more about services available and make a pledge to help your own or someone else’s mental health.