What are some self-care strategies for maintaining good mental health?

Written by: Dr Hana Patel
Edited by: Conor Lynch

In this article, exceptionally well-regarded and versatile GP, Dr Hana Patel, is on hand to run us through some of the main risk factors associated with developing a mental health disorder, and some advisable self-care strategies that can be used to improve your mental health.

What are the risk factors for developing a mental health disorder?

There are many, and there is plenty of research being carried out into this. However, the current main risk factors include the following:


  • childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect
  • social isolation or loneliness
  • experiencing discrimination and stigma, including racism
  • social disadvantage, poverty, or debt
  • bereavement (losing someone close to you)
  • severe or long-term stress
  • having a long-term physical health condition


Can exercise help improve mental health?

Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it's especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it.


What are some self-care strategies for maintaining good mental health?

There are things that people can do to look after their mental health. An example is to connect with other people. Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. Also, being physically active is not only great for your physical health and fitness but also our mental health. Learning new skills, volunteering, or helping others can also help. Mindfulness and meditation are things that I would also advise.


Is it possible to prevent mental health issues?

Preventing mental health problems will benefit physical health outcomes - mental health problems are common, with one in four people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year, and one in 10 children aged 5-16 suffering from a diagnosable mental health problem.


Many factors influence our mental health, such as our personal history (our family, relationships and how we see ourselves) and our social circumstances (including our housing, employment and education).


While it isn’t possible to stop all mental ill-health from developing, many mental health problems can be prevented with the right approach. Prevention can help all of us, whether we currently have good mental health or not. We all have mental health that changes depending on what’s happening in our lives.


There are three types of prevention:


  • Primary prevention: stopping mental health problems before they start
  • Secondary prevention: supporting those at higher risk of experiencing mental health problems
  • Tertiary prevention: helping people living with mental health problems to stay well


What should I do if I suspect I have a mental health problem?

For common problems such as depression and anxiety, your GP may be able to give you a diagnosis after one or two appointments. For less common problems, you'll need to be referred to a mental health specialist (such as a psychiatrist), and they may want to see you over a longer period of time before making a diagnosis.


If your mental health is currently suffering, reach out to Dr Hana Patel today and make an appointment with her. You can do this by heading over to her Top Doctors profile today.

By Dr Hana Patel
GP (general practitioner)

Dr Hana Patel is a versatile and experienced general practitioner in family medicine and life and mental health coach in the Southeast London area. She specialises in well-man and male fertility checks, menopause, paediatric checks, over 50's health checks for men and women, and memory health checks. In addition to her practice in family medicine, Dr Patel currently practises as an mental health and life coach, and offers qualified and regulated coaching supervision.

She first received her medical degree in 2005 from The University of London, and continued to further her medical qualifications through rigorous trainings and degrees. These include, but are not limited to, specialised diplomas in leadership and management, postgraduate qualifications in family planning, women's health, elderly medicine, and a Master's degree in medical education and strategic leadership. Dr Patel has trained with institutions such as King's College London, University of London, and University of Kent. In 2010, she received her qualification from The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

Currently, Dr Patel practises mainly in mental health and life coaching, along with coaching supervision. She has a passion for mentoring, aiding both fellow qualified doctors, future doctors, and her patients. For many years she was providing these services solely to colleagues before she decided to open them up to all clients, as well. Due to both her background as a general practitioner and personal experiences, Dr Patel is able to provide a unique holistic approach which is individualised per patient and session.

Dr Patel's passion and dedication to coaching, mentoring, and education can be seen via her roles as an Academic mentor for Health Education England, a General Medical Council examiner and carrying out coaching and mentoring for primary care within the NHS. She truly embodies all that coaching requires, giving her patients a trusted and high-quality service alongside long-term care. University of Kent has made her an Honorary lecturer, which she does in congruent with teachings and trainings around the country and international lectures.

Having presentations and research resulting in published works, Dr Patel is internationally known. She is presently a section editor for the RCGP medical journal for GP trainees all around the world, InnovAiT

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