Key Information: Mental Health
Common issues associated with mental health problems are:
Depression is different from the low mood that many of us have from time to time. Low mood passes with time, but depression causes longer lasting interference with a person’s life and either lasts for a prolonged period or comes back again and again, lasting for at least several days at a time.
Depression can be described as mild, moderate or severe depending on the extent of a person’s symptoms which might include:
- Feeling down, upset or tearful
- Restlessness and agitation
- Empty and numb
- Feeling down on oneself
- Isolated and unable to relate
- Low confidence and self-esteem
- Hopelessness and desperation
At the more severe level, students may be:
- Feeling Suicidal
- Having delusions
- Experiencing paranoia
Stress is the body’s response to external pressures such as new experiences, threatening experiences and where someone feels they have little control over a situation. In these situations, the body produces stress hormones that trigger a flight or fight response in the body. On a day to day basis this stress can be a positive thing and can enable someone to perform appropriately in a number of situations.
However, stress becomes a mental health problem when it becomes excessive, prolonged and too much to cope with. If stress lasts a long time this can have a detrimental impact on our bodies and can be overwhelming for us. In these situations, there can be emotional, behavioural and physical changes that can impact someone’s wellbeing.
Three particular manifestations of stress include:
- Emotional stress may cause “anxiety, fear, sadness, or frustration. These feelings can…produce physical feelings, making you feel even worse” (Mental Health Foundation 2020). Stress can also lead to depression.
- Behavioural impacts might include lack of sleep, irritability, aggression, withdrawal, disengagement and seeking support through alcohol or drugs.
- Physical health can be impacted during prolonged periods of stress in a number of ways including headaches, gastrointestinal issues and fatigue.
Anxiety is considered to be a mental health problem where it impacts on someone’s ability to live their life as fully and normally as they would like to. It is also worth considering the strength of feelings they have and the length of time that they have been having these. Other symptoms of anxiety as a mental health problem might be:
- Avoidance of otherwise normal situations or activities
- Worries and fears being out of proportion to the situation
- An inability to control their anxiety
If someone’s symptoms fit a particular set of medical criteria then they might be diagnosed with a particular anxiety disorder. But it is also possible to experience problems with anxiety without having a specific diagnosis. Our pages on self-care and treatment for anxiety problems offer suggestions for help and support.