FAQ Mental Health Everything you always wanted to know

Mental health can be a complex subject to wrap your head around, and although you may feel that something is wrong or different about your own mental health, it's not always easy to know what. Here, we present some frequently asked questions...

What is a mental illness and what does it mean to have one?

Mental illnesses are conditions which can affect a person's day-to day life, and can range in severity from mild to extreme. Some are easier to live with, whilst other can be hugely disrupting, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Mental illnesses do not discriminate - absolutely anyone can develop one. In fact, Mind, the mental health charity, states that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Remember, a mental illness is not a reflection of a person's intelligence or character.

What are some warning signs?

Symptoms of a mental illness will vary from person to person, but below are some more common examples. We have focused specifically on symptoms in teens. Please note that you don't have to show any of these symptoms to have a mental illness and as mentioned above, if you have concerns, do speak to your GP.

  • Continued inability to focus on school work
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Frequently angry and/or sad
  • Obsessing over your physical appearance
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Compulsive behaviour that you struggle to control

What causes a mental illness?

It isn't easy to answer what the cause of a mental illness is, and it can be a mix of factors, including biological, environmental, psychosocial (a combination of social and psychological factors), amongst others.

Mental illness is complex and it's not always a straightforward task to try and pinpoint the cause. Pay attention to early warning signs and seek help as soon as you feel in trouble. We recommend speaking to your GP if you are concerned.

If I'm taking medication and feel 'cured', can I then stop taking it?

It is common to feel 'cured', or as if your symptoms have been put under control when taking medication for a mental illness. The mistake a lot of people make is to then abruptly stop taking the medication. This is a shock to the body which can cause incredibly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Do not stop medication without speaking to your GP first. If after speaking to your doctor you both decide a trial off your medicine is worth trying, your dosage will be decreased to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Can I recover from a mental illness?

There are a range of treatments available for mental illness that have been shown to be effective. Of course, your GP will suggest treatment depending on the illness. Amongst these is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, which aims to alter your behaviour and way of thinking. Find out more about CBT on the NHS website here.

Many people recover from mental illness, although sometimes, it can return. If this occurs, with the right help it is possible to manage and live with it.

The important thing to know is that you don't have to suffer in silence. Make an appointment to speak to your doctor, or confide in somebody that you can trust and talk through your concerns.

Mind matters

For more support and advice regarding mental health, check out the Channel 4 support site

Channel 4 support (This link opens in a new window)

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