Mental health is defined by the World Health Organisation (2014) as a state of well being to which an individual realises their potential, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community. We've included some tools and information here to help provide you with some further insight into the topic of mental health.

Mental Health Continuum Model

Mental health continuum model categorises symptoms for good to poor mental and physical health on a four colour continuum: green (healthy), yellow (reacting), orange (injured) and red (unwell). It lists some of the behaviours associated with each part of the continuum, from healthy normal coping (green), through mild and reversible distress (yellow), to more severe, persistent impairment (orange) and clinical disorders that require more concentrated medical care (red). When you or someone you care about is moving towards orange, it is important to seek help. A person fluctuates on the continuum depending on internal or external factors, just like a bead does on an abacus. For instance, an adult who suffered from a severe alcohol use disorder (unwell end of the continuum) could over time become a sober, happy, and productive member of society (mentally healthy).

Continuum

As you can see when healthy it is ok to have normal mood changes and our care recommendations are all about maintenance of this functional state of being

When life stressors begin to get on top of us we can be reacting which is very common and easily reversible. This might show as having feelings of being overwhelmed and with  low energy. Its important to be self-aware at this stage to try and reduce the possibility of moving down the mental health continuum. And rest, food exercise are key recommendations.

As we move down the continuum into the orange and injured state which is serious and ongoing we might notice aches and pains, nightmares and disturbed sleep. Anxiety and anger might materialise and at this stage it would help to continue to be self-aware and start to seek help from someone. Finally, the red traffic light, unwell which is a serious clinical disorder where you might see or experience panic attacks, excessive anxiety, alcohol or gambling addictions, our  intimate relationships may be effected and maybe suicidal thoughts may be present. The recommendation here is to know your support networks and seek specialist help.

It is important to remember this is not an exhaustive list nor is it a diagnostic tool, this is simply a starting point so that you can refer to and give you some idea as to how urgent the symptoms are to get appropriate help.

Anxiety

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a word we frequently use when there are feelings that cause us distress or fear. We may have unpleasant physical or emotional responses that appear and whilst these are not feelings that many of us enjoy having, they do form part of a flight or fight response. This response has evolved as a survival mechanism, enabling people to react quickly to life-threatening situations. 

This feeling of anxiety is common at the thought of an event or decision you’re facing, especially if it could have a big impact on your life. They may make you feel tense and this is understandable. These feelings may also make it difficult to sleep well, or even concentrate on every day tasks. After a short period of time, often when the event has passed these feelings are likely to recede.

So when does anxiety become an issue for a person?

 As a general rule of thumb it is when a person's feelings of anxiety are very strong, or last for a long time and they are feeling overwhelmed. For example a person might find they are worrying all the time, perhaps about things that happen every day, or about things that aren’t going to happen.  There may also be an ongoing physical and emotional sensations that the person cannot shake. 

Anxiety usually involve feelings of anxiousness, worry, fear and panic. Some examples are: 

  • Panic attacks
  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Social anxiety

So what can I do?

Download this informative brochure from the Mental Health Foundation on anxiety and how to handle it.