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Maintaining your mental health is essential for not only your physical health, but for your relationship with others as well. Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time and they don’t discriminate between young and old. Around 850,000 children and young people aged 5 to 16 are battling a mental health problem and well over half a million people in England suffering from dementia.

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 having a noticeable impact on your daily life – perhaps stopping you from going to work or from 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 mental health difficulty is work-related, consider asking your employer what occupational health services are available to you. If you are at college or university, mental health care may be available to you 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. 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.

Remember, mental health problems may be an “invisible” illness, but they are no less important when it comes to seeking treatment.