Portfolio of Hope

Although people with mental health problems are not subjected to the same level of discrimination as they were seventy years ago, they are still left to face a whole host of difficulties that may impact upon their day to day living and ultimately, their overall quality of life.

As someone with a mental health problem is more likely to find things that others do not have to even think about difficult, they may avoid certain situations that evoke difficulty, such as going shopping, going to the pub, going on holiday, or joining a club. This is because doing such things, things that require one to socialise with people, is often anxiety provoking due to the way they feel ‘misunderstood’ by everyone around them, a result of the stereotypes which state that mental ill health=violence and danger. Rather than challenging these irrational fears, many people simply avoid situations where they are unable to isolate themselves from others. Such behaviour can result in a resistance to work or even a resistance in applying for jobs due to a fear of being stigmatised and being unfairly treated. This can turn into a vicious circle however, as unemployed people are more likely to experience additional mental health problems such as depression and/or anxiety. Aside from the suffering of their work life, people experiencing poor mental health are also likely to find being in steady and long-term relationships difficult, live in adequate accommodation, and perhaps the biggest and scariest prospect for a lot of people; be socially included in mainstream society.

As I have written about the mental effects that people suffering with mental health problems face, it is also important to remember how mental health affects both mental and physical health. For example, physical health difficulties associated with ill mental health include difficulty sleeping resulting in unexplained tiredness, changes in appetite which can lead to weight fluctuations, loss/increase in sexual desire, and headaches. In contrast, psychological difficulties may include feeling anxious/distressed, appearing distracted/confused and forgetting things or struggling to take in information, feeling tearful, finding it difficult to relax, appearing sad/low, experiencing frequent mood changes, having irrational/illogical thought, losing one’s sense of motivation and humour, and having suicidal thoughts.

Besides the physical and mental effects that I have discussed, there is one final area in which one can suffer, that area being via their behaviour. During periods of ill mental health, people can turn to alcohol/drugs to ‘numb’ their feelings, they can become irritable/angry/aggressive, experience restlessness, be frequently late for school/work, develop OCD tendencies (obsessive behaviour), and/or lose interest in activities which were previously enjoyed.

As I have described throughout this post, someone suffering with their mental health is likely to find their life experience differs to someone without a mental illness. Rather than feeling segregated from society with the knowledge of this fact though, they must accept that they deserve to get the help they need to lead a satisfying and mentally well life.

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