Mental health, emotional wellbeing and resilience is all about how we cope with what life throws at us, and it’s just as important as good physical health. It concerns the way we feel about ourselves, conduct relationships, handle stress or deal with loss. Mental health affects us all and is everyone’s business.
Mental health problems are very common and impact on all outcomes. At least one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life, and one in six adults will have a mental health problem at any one time. Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life, to serious long-term conditions. Mental ill health takes up 30-50% of the daily workload in primary care, and 50% of acute outpatient clinics.
The majority of people who experience mental health problems can recover or learn to live with them, especially if they get help early on. However, mental health problems are estimated to be the commonest cause of premature death and is the largest proportion of the disease burden in the UK (22%). That is larger than cardiovascular disease (16.2%) or cancer (15.9%). Unfortunately, this is because people with mental health problems are far more likely to develop physical illness, and less likely to get the support and treatment they need when they do.
Common mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, panic disorders, phobias and obsessive compulsive disorder can cause great emotional distress, and can affect how you cope with day-to-day life and your ability to work. Anxiety and depression are the most common problems, with around 1 in 10 people affected at any one time. Anxiety and depression can be severe and long-lasting and have a big impact on people’s ability to get on with life. Depression is associated with 50% increased mortality from all disease.
Less common conditions, such as psychosis, can make you experience changes in thinking and perception severe enough to significantly alter your experience of reality. Between one and two in every 100 people experience a severe mental illness. These conditions include schizophrenia and affective psychosis, such as bipolar disorder, and can have the same lifelong impact as any long-term physical condition.