Dr. Phelan By General Practitioner Published:

Around one in four people in the UK has a diagnosable mental health problem in any one year and one in six are likely to experience a problem at some point in their life.  That means if you’re sitting in a room with 12 people, statistically, two of them may be dealing with a mental health issue.

Good mental health is essential for good physical health and wellbeing as well as strong relationships, and problems can affect anyone at any time – they don’t discriminate between young and old, with about 850,000 children and young people aged five to 16 affected and well over half a million people in England suffering from dementia.

Help with a mental health problem

So what are the options if you, or a member of your family, has a mental health problem?

Many mental health and counselling services are available via the NHS, but you may need a referral from your GP to access them.

A few services, including those for drug or alcohol-related problems and some psychological therapy services, allow people to refer themselves.

If you’ve been feeling low for more than a few weeks, or anxiety or stress is impacting your daily life – perhaps stopping you from going to work or socialising – you should make an appointment to see your GP.

After an initial assessment, your GP may offer advice and/or treatment and, if necessary, make a referral to either a therapy or specialist mental health service.

If your problems are work-related, you could ask your employer what occupational health services are available to you.

If you are at college or university, care may be available to you there via student support services.

Children and young people may need help with a range of issues at different points in their lives, and parents may also need advice on how to deal with emotional or behavioural problems.

Specialist NHS services

The NHS provides specialist services that work with children, young people and their parents and carers – CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) teams are arranged regionally across the UK and usually have their own website  with details about access and referrals, as well as contact details.

Raising issues of memory loss and the possibility of dementia can be difficult, and people experiencing these symptoms may be confused and worried.

If someone you know is becoming increasingly forgetful, you should encourage them to see their GP. Some services for people with dementia are arranged through the NHS, and charities, such as the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK and Dementia UK, provide a range of services, including information, helplines, support groups and home care schemes.

  • For a very comprehensive list on where to find information, advice and help on a range of mental health issues, click here.