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.