MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
Mental health problems are very common!
Given the stresses and strains of modern living, mental health difficulties are increasingly common. For example, a recent survey of mental health and well-being in England indicated that 1 in 6 people surveyed met the criteria for a common mental health problem such as feeling low in mood, depressed, stressed or anxious (McManus, Bebbington, Jenkins & Brugha, 2016).
How do mental health difficulties commonly affect people?
Individuals are affected in many different ways, however, people often report several common experiences, such as feeling low in mood: finding it difficult to motivate themselves to do day-to-day tasks, avoiding doing the things that they used to enjoy, becoming socially withdrawn, lack of self-care, finding it difficult to manage work, becoming tearful, feeling angry and frustrated and being self-critical or ‘beating themselves up’. Anxiety and low mood often go together, and feeling anxious can involve: thoughts going around and around in your head, physical sensations (e.g. sweating, increased heart rate and feeling nauseous) and feeling as though you want to avoid people or specific situations. Research suggests that people with mental health difficulties may be more prone to developing physical health problems, for example: obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and/or cholesterol (Ohrnberger, Fichera & Sutton, 2017)
Which mental health difficulties do we work with?
Anyone who is experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings in response to difficult life events, it is not necessary to have a mental health diagnosis to access our service. We are trained to support people experiencing a broad range of difficult life circumstances, including: Bereavement, family and relationship problems, coping with a chronic health condition, low self-confidence, work related stress or unemployment, past or recent trauma, loss of motivation to do day-to-day tasks, loss of direction in life, excessive worry about the past and future, feeling overwhelmed by life, rigid or excessive patterns of diet and exercise, and lack of self-care (e.g. excessive eating, drinking, smoking or lack of exercise).
We are interested in helping our clients to understand that the difficulties they have been experiencing are understandable responses to difficult life circumstances. We work with people with specific psychiatric diagnoses, such as anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, OCD, personality disorder and psychosis. However, we will only refer to psychiatric labels when our clients consider them to be useful, and we do not give people diagnoses or labels. Instead we prefer to focus on how we can help our clients to improve their quality of life.
How do we work with mental health difficulties?
You can choose to meet with a Clinical Psychologist and/or a Clinical Exercise Specialist for an individual assessment.
“When something bad happens to you it sits on top of you like a rock, and If you never tell the story, it sits on you forever. But as you begin to tell the story, you climb out from under that rock and eventually you sit up on top of it. (Donald Davis, 2014)
A key part of your assessment is hearing your story, in your own words. We take the time to listen to you and this is the first step in helping you to understand why life has become so difficult. We are interested in understanding when your difficulties started, how they have impacted your life and what you have been doing to cope. As part of the assessment we will ask you about how you would like your life to change going forward, so that we can understand your best hopes for your work with us.
The physical aspect of the assessment is a chance to explore the way in which the difficulties that you have experienced have impacted your physical health. For example, it is common for people experiencing mental health difficulties to have gotten out of the routine of prioritising good self-care. You may have stopped exercising or have a poor diet, and as a result you might have put on weight. You may be smoking or consuming alcohol or other substances as a way of coping with the stresses in your life.
At assessment, our clinical exercise specialist will ask you questions about how you manage your physical health, including finding out more about the day-to-day lifestyle choices that you make, such as whether you drink or smoke. They will conduct a health check including: height and weight and body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure. You will also be offered fitness testing, which will help to establish a safe baseline level of exercise from which to begin an exercise programme. As part of the assessment your clinical exercise specialist will discuss with you the benefits of making changes to your lifestyle, for example, how increasing exercise can result in improved self-confidence and body image, reduced anxiety, provide a daily structure and increase motivation and readiness to engage in social situations. This will also help you to identify areas in which you wish to set physical goals.
Recommendations and treatment planning
Following your assessment your clinician will agree an appropriate treatment plan with you, based on the information you have provided, for example individual psychological therapy, exercise and lifestyle management or a combination of both.
Davis, D. (2014). How the story transforms the teller [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgeh4xhSA2Q
McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, & Brugha T. (2016). Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital. Retrieved from: http://content.digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB21748/apms-2014-full-rpt.pdf
Ohrnberger, J., Fichera, E., & Sutton, M. (2017). The relationship between physical and mental health: A mediation analysis. Social Science and Medicine, 195, 42-49. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.11.008