About Mental Health

The term ‘mental health problems’ refers to a broad range of conditions which affect our thinking, mood or behaviour. Around 15 million people in the UK, a staggering 1 in 4 of us are affected each year. Mental health problems range from the worries common to everyday life to serious long-term and life-threatening conditions. Some of the most common are listed below:

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions and are characterised by feelings of unease or fear. There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders and these include:

Phobia is an irrational fear that triggers your anxiety when in certain situations or around particular objects, even when there is no danger. This condition affects an estimated 10 million people in the UK.

Panic disorder is characterised by recurring, severe panic attacks, often occurring for no apparent reason. A panic attack is a sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety. At least 1 in 10 people experience occasional panic attacks.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition which may develop following exposure to a frightening, stressful or traumatic event. Sufferers will often experience flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks. Feelings of isolation, irritability, guilt and difficulty sleeping may also occur.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition which causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour. An obsession is an unwanted, unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person’s mind, causing them anxiety. A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that the sufferer feels compelled to carry out to try to prevent an obsession coming true. For example, compulsively washing one’s hands in response to an irrational fear of germs or contamination. OCD affects approximately 12 out of every 1,000 people.


Depression is a very common mental health condition that affects people in different ways and can either be quite short-lived, or severe and enduring. Common symptoms of depression including low mood, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, isolating from others, feeling bad about yourself and lacking in energy. This condition affects approximately 1 in 10 people at some point.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour. A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health.

Eating disorders include a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially. The most common eating disorders are:
Anorexia nervosa is a condition in a person tries to keep their weight as low as possible
Bulimia is a condition characterised by periods of binge eating followed by deliberate vomiting and/or use laxatives in an attempt to control weight
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a condition where a person feels compelled to overeat large amounts of food in a short space of time


Psychosis is a broad term used to describe a set of symptoms that might cause people to experience or perceive things differently to others. They may see or hear things that other people do not or have unusual beliefs.

There are a number of conditions/diagnoses which will have psychotic symptoms, including:

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mood disorder and symptoms include emotional instability, mood swings, feelings of being unable to cope, distressed and impulsive behaviour. Complications arising in BPD include problems with substance misuse and self-harm. This condition affects approximately 1 in 100 people.

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health condition that affects the way someone thinks. Symptomatic of schizophrenia are hallucinations, delusions, changes in behaviour, confused thoughts and becoming withdrawn. Despite common misconceptions, people suffering from schizophrenia are no more likely to be violent than the general population. This condition affects approximately 1 in every 100 people.

Bipolar disorder (Manic Depression)

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a chronic illness with unusual and dramatic shifts in mood, characterised by extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression). This condition affects approximately 1 in every 100 people.