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MENTAL HEALTH APPS

06 November 2017

 

The NHS App library has lots of different apps, some of which have clinical evidence to show that they help some people (these ones are labelled ‘NHS Approved’) and others are currently undergoing testing to see how effective they are.

https://apps.beta.nhs.uk/?category=Mental%20Health

WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?

06 November 2017

We all have mental health and we all have to take care of it. It affects how we think, feel and behave as well as determining how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Our mental health can change over time. Some people call mental health 'emotional health' or 'wellbeing'.

What are mental health challenges?

Changes in mental health are very common, for example with the stresses and strains of life. But if these changes don’t go away, and start to affect our everyday life, this can lead to challenges with our mental health.  Over the course our lives, if we experience mental health challenges, our thinking, mood, and behaviour can be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health challenges, including our genes and life experiences.

How common are mental health problems?

Anyone can experience challenges with their mental health from mild stress to diagnosable mental health challenges, and it is thought that at any one time at least 1 person in 6 is experiencing a mental health challenge.

Mental health challenges are common but help is available and with the right support many people recover completely. Check out our Who Can Help Page for lots of services who are local and national!

ANXIETY, OCD & PHOBIAS

06 November 2017

 Skip to: Anxiety, OCD, Phobias

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What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life – for example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.

However, some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives. People with anxiety challenges tend to feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.

Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including:

Although feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal, see your GP if anxiety is affecting your daily life or causing you distress.

Who can help?

If you feel that you or someone you know could be suffering with anxiety then you can always go to your GP for help; your GP will be able to refer you over to someone who can help you get treatment. You can also self-refer yourself to services that help with Mental Health Challenges to get treatment.

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What is OCD?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

It affects men, women and children and can develop at any age. Some people develop the condition early, often around puberty, but it typically develops during early adulthood.

OCD can be distressing and significantly interfere with your life, but treatment can help you keep it under control.

If you have OCD, you'll usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

  • An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.
  • A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.

For example, someone with an obsessive fear of their house being burgled may feel they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave the house.

People with OCD can be reluctant to seek help because they feel ashamed or embarrassed. But there's nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. It's a health condition like any other – it doesn't mean you're "mad" and it's not your fault you have it.

Who can help?

If you know someone or yourself is struggling with OCD you can visit your GP who will be able to refer you to someone to get help. You can also refer yourself directly to services that help with OCD and other Mental Health Challenges.

The following sites may be useful sources of support:

OCD Action, OCD-UK and TOP UK can also let you know about any local support groups in your area.

What are Phobias?

A phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.

Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.

If a phobia becomes very severe, a person may organise their life around avoiding the thing that's causing them anxiety. As well as restricting their day-to-day life, it can also cause a lot of distress.

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. You may not experience any symptoms until you come into contact with the source of your phobia.

However, in some cases, even thinking about the source of a phobia can make a person feel anxious or panicky. This is known as anticipatory anxiety.

If you don't come into contact with the source of your phobia very often, it may not affect your everyday life.

There are a wide variety of objects or situations that someone could develop a phobia about. However, phobias can be divided into two main categories:

  • Specific or simple phobias
  • Complex phobias

Specific or simple phobias

Specific or simple phobias centre around a particular object, animal, situation or activity. They often develop during childhood or adolescence and may become less severe as you get older.

Common examples of simple phobias include:

  • Animal phobias – such as dogs, spiders, snakes or rodents
  • Environmental phobias – such as heights, deep water and germs
  • Situational phobias – such as visiting the dentist or flying
  • Bodily phobias – such as blood, vomit or having injections
  • Sexual phobias – such as performance anxiety or the fear of getting a sexually transmitted infection 

Complex phobias

Complex phobias tend to be more disabling than simple phobias. They tend to develop during adulthood and are often associated with a deep-rooted fear or anxiety about a particular situation or circumstance.

The two most common complex phobias are:

  • Agoraphobia
  • Social phobia 

Agoraphobia is often thought of as a fear of open spaces, but it's much more complex than this. Someone with agoraphobia will feel anxious about being in a place or situation where escaping may be difficult if they have a panic attack.

Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, centres around feeling anxious in social situations. If you have a social phobia, you might be afraid of speaking in front of people for fear of embarrassing yourself and being humiliated in public. In severe cases, this can become debilitating and may prevent you from carrying out everyday activities, such as eating out or meeting friends.

How common are phobias?

Phobias are the most common type of anxiety disorder.

They can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex and social background. Some of the most common phobias include:

  • Arachnophobia – fear of spiders
  • Claustrophobia  – fear of confined spaces
  • Agoraphobia – fear of open spaces and public places
  • Social phobia  – fear of social situations

Who can help?

If you have a phobia, you should seek help from your GP. They may refer you to a specialist with expertise in behavioural therapy, such as a psychologist. Or you can refer yourself to a service that helps with Mental Health Challenges.

 

Mental health challenges are common but help is available and with the right support many people recover completely. Check out our Who Can Help Page for lots of services who are local and national!

PREGNANCY

06 November 2017

While many people are aware that you can become depressed after having a baby, it's less well known that many women experience anxiety during and after pregnancy. In fact, it's common to experience depression and anxiety together.

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health challenges during pregnancy, with around 12% of women experiencing depression and 13% experiencing anxiety at some point; many women will experience both. Depression and anxiety also affect 15-20% of women in the first year after childbirth. During pregnancy and the postnatal period, anxiety disorders, including Panic Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Tokophobia (an extreme fear of childbirth), can occur on their own or can coexist with depression.

Perinatal anxiety and depression are mental health challenges experienced during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth. You might hear it called:

  • Perinatal or antenatal anxiety and/or depression if you experience anxiety during pregnancy.
  • Postnatal anxiety and/or depression if you experience it after giving birth.

Perinatal mental health challenges are those which occur during pregnancy or in the first year following the birth of a child. Perinatal mental illness affects 12-20% of women, and covers a wide range of conditions. If left untreated, it can have significant and long lasting effects on the woman and her family. Perinatal mental health challenges can also have long-standing effects on children’s emotional, social and cognitive development.

There are different types of depression and anxiety that can happen during and post-pregnancy:

  • Postpartum ‘blues’: (affecting 60-80% of all new mothers) is often expressed as frequent and prolonged crying, anxiety, irritability, poor sleep, quick mood changes and a sense of vulnerability. It usually occurs within the first three days following birth, continues for up to two weeks and is usually self-limiting.
  • Postpartum depression & anxiety: (affecting 15-20% of all new mothers) is more debilitating and longer lasting than the ‘blues’ and is characterized by despondency, tearfulness and more intense feelings of inadequacy, guilt, anxiety and fatigue. There may also be physical symptoms such as headaches and rapid heart rate. A lack of feeling for the baby is of special concern. These feelings can appear any time during the first few months to one year after the birth. Unfortunately, women experiencing this form of depression rarely seek treatment although almost all respond well.
  • Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth: is usually triggered by trauma during the time leading up to, during delivery or shortly afterwards. It can effect up to 6% of mothers. The trauma leads the women feeling that either her life or the life of her baby is at risk.
  • Postpartum psychosis:(found in 0.1% of new mothers) is a serious, but relatively rare disorder, with reactions such as extreme confusion, refusal to eat, delusions, auditory hallucinations, hyperactivity and rapid or irrational speech. Most of these reactions occur within 3-14 days following the birth. Psychosis is serious and requires immediate medical attention and at times medication and hospitalization.

How do I know if I have perinatal or postnatal depression or anxiety?

A mother may:

  • Feel constantly tired
  • Cry often for no apparent reason
  • Feel panicky
  • Worry excessively about her own or the baby’s health
  • Have a lack of feeling for the baby
  • Have difficulty sleeping or eating
  • Have problems concentrating
  • Have frightening thoughts or fantasies
  • Feel an overwhelming sense of loss

What are the treatments?

There are a range of treatment options for depression and anxiety, any of which you might find useful to treat perinatal and postnatal anxiety and/or depression.

  • Talking treatments. You're likely to be offered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or your local mental health services may run specific counselling or group programmes for anxiety. You can speak to your doctor, or contact your local services to find out what they offer.
  • Self-help resources. Your doctor could give you access to online CBT programmes, or prescribe self-help books to help you learn to manage your anxiety.
  • Medication. There are several different drugs that can be helpful in managing anxiety. If you have any concerns about taking medication during pregnancy or breastfeeding, you can always discuss this with your doctor.

You may be offered a combination of medication and a talking treatment. Many people find that taking medication helps them feel stable enough to get the most out of a talking treatment. However, other people find medication or talking treatments alone are more helpful.

If there are long waiting lists for talking treatments in your area, your doctor may recommend that you try an antidepressant to help you manage your mental health in the meantime.

What can I do to help myself?

Although the best way to treat depression is to seek help from a healthcare professional, there are steps you can take yourself to reduce your chances of developing depression and help you recover once you've been diagnosed.

Try to:

  • look for the positive things in your life, however hard that may seem
  • involve your partner or someone you're close to in your pregnancy and baby
  • make time to relax
  • be open about your feelings
  • ask for help with practical tasks like grocery shopping and household chores
  • find out about local support groups (check out our Who Can Help page)
  • make time to rest
  • eat well  
  • find time to have fun
  • organise small treats every day, such as a workout or a coffee with friends

Try to avoid:

  • doing too much – cut down on other commitments when you're pregnant or caring for a new baby
  • getting involved in stressful situations
  • drinking too much tea, coffee, alcohol or cola, which can stop you sleeping well
  • moving house
  • being too hard on yourself or your partner

If you're looking for other women's pregnancy challenges, here's a link to a life story about a woman who suffered with post-natal anxiety.

Who can help?

  • Anxiety UK - was established to promote the relief and rehabilitation of persons suffering from agoraphobia and associated anxiety disorders, phobias and conditions, in particular, but not exclusively, by raising awareness in such topics.
  • No Panic - No Panic is a registered charity which helps people who suffer from Panic Attacks, Phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and other related anxiety disorders including those people who are trying to give up Tranquillizers.
  • The NHS - has useful information and tips on how to cope with perinatal and postnatal depression and anxiety.
  • Tommy's - are an organisation that provides accredited midwife-led pregnancy health information for parents-to-be, and funds research into the causes of pregnancy loss.
  • PANDAS - Pre And Post Natal Depression Advice and Support (PANDAS) help support and advise any parent who is experiencing a perinatal mental illness.  They also inform and guide family members, carers, friends and employers as to how they can support someone who is suffering.
  • CPSL MIND - Mind have lots of helpful advice and information online about the different kinds of support you can get and they also run lots of workshops and courses. If you would like to self refer to Mind, We have added their Referral Form here and a link to their different services and referral forms!
  • CPSL MIND have several services available, for example: 

Connecting Mums, 6 week short intervention courses for mums who are socially isolated, this course also offers tips and tools on management and prevention for mental wellbeing. Mums can bring along their babies to the sessions and we have volunteers on hand to help look after the children while mum interacts in a group environment, babies are in the same room as mums. We deliver these from a number of different children’s centres in Peterborough.

Mums Matter, 8 week targeted intervention course, this course is for Mums who are that bit more poorly, we deliver the courses in children’s centres and pay for a crèche for the children, the crèche is always in the same building as the mums and we work with the mums in a separate room, this course is designed to help mums manage the everyday and dispel the myths. We use tools such as CBT, mindfulness, meditation and work on self-esteem.

We are launching a Mums Monthly Peers Support group that will be starting on the 2nd July 2018, this will be held at First Steps Children’s Centre, it will take place on the first Monday of each month from 1000 – 1200, this is a peer led support group and the volunteers that lead the group have accessed our services. Mums can bring children along to the group.

CPSL MIND can accept Mums who are pregnant and have a child who is up to 2 years old, Mums can self-refer by contacting them on 01733 362990 or they can accept professional or other organisations referrals.

Local Support - Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Authority Support: 

  • Health Visiting service– The health visiting service is a universal-progressive, needs-led, evidence-based service for children to age 5 years and their families, delivered by specialist community public health nurses.

    Family Nurse Partnership- The Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) is a structured home visiting parenting programme, delivered by specially trained family nurses, from early pregnancy until the child is two years old to vulnerable teenage mothers. The family nurse and the young parent(s) commit to an average of 64 planned home visits over two and a half years.

    Peterborough Connecting Mums- Cambridgeshire, Peterborough & South Lincolnshire MIND (formerly Peterborough & Fenland MIND) deliver perinatal mental health programmes. Peterborough City Council have commissioned this organisation to deliver 5 perinatal mental health programmes per annum (Connecting Mums & Mums Matter), which have been specifically designed, piloted and evidenced by CPSL MIND.

    Presently, the programmes only operate in Peterborough and have an annual reach target of 45 women, although some partners/family members are also supported in a 'supporter' session, which is part of the Mums Matter course. From a commissioning perspective, the local authority are continuing to invest in this for the 2018/19 financial year, however ongoing funding is unclear; it is anticipated that this need will be picked up through the Better Births transformation.

    Early Help Hub - Single point of contact for all Early Help Assessments, Family Plans and Reviews that have been completed by any agency. Here's the Cambridge County Council Support Hub website.

    Child & Family Centres/Children’s centres- Deliver evidence-based parenting programmes and targeted support for Domestic Abuse in conjunction with the Early Help offer.

    Health Improvement antenatal- Address lifestyle/behavioural factors- smoking, diet & obesity, physical activity, drugs & alcohol, sexual health. Delivered by Everyone Health  in Cambridgeshire and Solutions for Health in Peterborough.

Mental health challenges are common but help is available and with the right support many people recover completely. Check out our Who Can Help Page for lots of services who are local and national!