IF you were to break your leg, contract an illness or suffer from some long-term physical condition you would go to your hospital or GP without question.
But despite proof that mental health illnesses affect us just as much as physical ailments some experts are concerned not everyone asks, or is able to ask, for the help they need.
In fact the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional.
Sue Forber, the director of services at mental health charity Solent Mind, said: ‘The official statistics say that one in four of us will experience a mental health issue in any given year, but many people suffer in silence and don’t receive any form of support or treatment, so it’s likely that the true extent is under-reported.’
And the figures are startling. Between 2014 and 2015 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England recorded that 15.6 per cent of the population aged from 16 to 74 lived with a common mental health disorder. That’s 6,114,247 people.
This statistic was higher in Portsmouth, with 16.7 per cent of adults affected.
Common mental health disorders are classed as depression and anxiety based illnesses and include depression, panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A national GP survey conducted in 2016 also found that 15.6 per cent of patients aged 18 and over in Portsmouth experienced depression or anxiety. This was more than the average in England of 13.7 per cent.
But types of mental health illnesses are extremely wide ranging and far from simple to define.
From conditions labelled common, like anxiety and depression, to those classed as more severe like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and self-harm, each person will be affected differently. And some conditions might not even be seen as a mental health problem such as stress, insomnia, loneliness and drug and alcohol addiction.
For health and wellbeing consultant for the south east branch of PHE, Terry Blair-Stevens, mental health is just as important as your physical condition. ‘We all need to be encouraged to take as much care of our mental health as we do our physical health,’ he said.
‘With the pressures of modern life it’s normal to feel stressed, anxious, low or have trouble sleeping some of the time. But when these become overwhelming or frequent they can manifest into a more serious problem. It’s just as important to take action to look after your mental health, as you would your physical health.’
PHE has also recorded that the proportion of diagnosable common mental health conditions has increased by 20 per cent in 20 years.
Ms Forber believed that mental health affects everyone in some way. She added: ‘Mental health is everyone’s business – mental health issues are very common, and even if we don’t experience them ourselves, it’s likely that someone we love, work with or live near to, will have mental health issues at some point.
‘If we see it as something that’s relevant to us, we’re more likely to find out how we can help and support people. Most people can and do recover from mental health issues, and many people, myself included, live with long-term mental health conditions and have meaningful and fulfilling lives.’
In line with the start of Mental Health Awareness Week The News will be looking at a range of mental health illnesses and talking to some of the people who have experienced them first hand over the next couple of weeks. We will also be providing information on where you can find help and exploring how mental health issues are impacting adults, children and workers in the Portsmouth area.
One thing that is clear is that everyone is affected by mental health problems, having either experienced one themselves or knowing a friend, family member or colleague who has. So let’s talk about it.
Statistics from CCGs in England, compiled by Public Health England
Estimated prevalence of common mental health disorders in population aged 16-74 (2014/15)
England: 15.6 per cent
Portsmouth: 16.7 per cent
Fareham and Gosport: 12.6 per cent
Isle of Wight: 13 per cent
Southampton: 17.1 per cent
South Eastern Hampshire: 12.4 per cent
Long-term mental health problems in respondents ages 18+ from GP patient survey (2017/18)
England: 9.1 per cent
Portsmouth: 9.8 per cent
Fareham and Gosport: 10.5 per cent
Isle of Wight: 9.2
South Eastern Hampshire: 8.5
Depression and anxiety prevalence in respondent aged 18+ from GP patient survey (2016/17)
England: 13.7 per cent
Portsmouth: 15.6 per cent
Fareham and Gosport: 13.6 per cent
Isle of Wight: 16.5 per cent
Southampton: 15.9 per cent
South Eastern Hampshire: 12 per cent
Depression recorded prevalence of practice register aged 18+ (2017/18)
England: 9.9 per cent
Portsmouth: 9.5 per cent
Fareham and Gosport: 11.8 per cent
Isle of Wight: 9.2 per cent
Southampton: 10.1 per cent
South Eastern Hampshire: 11.1 per cent
Mental health problems, as defined by mental health charity Mind:
Anxiety and panic attacks
Bipolar affective disorder (BPAD)
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)
Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
Drugs – recreational drugs and alcohol
Hypomania and mania
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Postnatal depression and perinatal mental health
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
More information is available on the Mind website: mind.org.uk
Alcoholics Anonymous: 0845 769 7555
Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774
Beat (eating disorders): 0808 801 0677 (adults) or 0808 801 0711 (for under-18s)
Calm (for men aged 15-35): 0800 58 58 58
Cruse Bereavement Care: 0844 477 9400
Mind: 0300 123 3393
Narcotics Anonymous: 0300 999 1212
OCD UK: 0845 120 3778
Rethink Mental Illness: 0300 5000 927
Samaritans: 116 123
Sane: 0300 304 7000