Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. (World Health Organisation)
Reduced mental wellbeing can negatively influence thoughts, feelings and behaviours making it hard to live a satisfying life.
Many people experience times of feeling down or worried as a normal part of life. However, for some these feelings can be persistent, have significant impact on daily life, and make it difficult to cope. This can reach crisis point. At these times, additional support is needed and mental health services are usually involved.
A diagnosis may be given to help make sense of symptoms, and guide the best ways to treat the issue and support the individual and family. Things such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders including bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, substance use disorders, schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or borderline personality disorder (BPD) are some of the terms used to describe behavioural, psychological or biological issues.
Some people may find a diagnosis helpful to make sense of what has been difficult to understand for a long time, while for others it may feel like being put in a box. Everyone’s experience is different. Equally, the impact of serious mental health issues may be different for everyone. Some are able to live meaningful and fulfilling lives, while others feel stopped in their tracks. Family/whanau and friends may also feel unsure of how to support the person.
Although mental health issues can come as a surprise, often, they are as a result of a build-up of stressors over time.
A therapist can help you to understand and manage the symptoms of disorders. This might include; identifying triggers and challenges, developing strategies to manage strong feelings, developing healthy routines, identifying family and community resources, strengthening interpersonal skills and knowing when and how to reach out.
A therapist can also assist you to identify long term patterns and make sense of what is often a confusing time. This can help you manage issues early on, before they become overwhelming.
Your therapist may also work in partnership with Community Mental Health Services, your GP and key support people to ensure that you have a strong team around you.
With the right mix of support, and in many cases medication, a diagnosis is not a life sentence, nor is it the whole person, but points to a pathway for recovery.