Living with a mental health condition
Information for patients and carers on the wider aspects of living with a mental health condition.
Mental illness can affect many areas of your life. This section has information on many aspects of your daily life, from physical health to work, education and recovery. Select an area below to learn more:
Five Ways to Wellbeing
- Connect with people – your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Speaking to people over the telephone or online can help, but there’s nothing like being in the company of others to boost your mood.
- Get active – take a walk, go cycling, join a dance class, go swimming or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Anything that raises your heart rate – even cleaning the house – can help.
- Keep learning – give yourself a sense of achievement and a new confidence. Why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, learn a new language, or figure out how to fix your bike?
- Give – even the smallest act can count – whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you make new friends.
- Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness ‘mindfulness’ and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
These are proven techniques to help boost your general wellbeing and they are things we can all incorporate into our daily lives. If you want to make your mental health and wellbeing a priority, following these steps is a good place to start.
Drugs and alcohol
Support in Gloucestershire
CGL Gloucestershire is a free and confidential drug and alcohol service for adults (including offenders), families, carers and affected others. They provide information, support, advice and treatment options from three main hubs across the county – Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud. They also work from a range of other locations including pharmacies and community venues. https://www.changegrowlive.org/content/cgl-gloucestershire
Support in Herefordshire
Addaction Herefordshire offers information, advice and support for people with drug and alcohol issues every weekday, and on alternative Saturdays. There is a young people’s service for those aged 11+. Their recovery-focused service has bases in Hereford as well as outreach via partner organisations. They aim to support people to overcome their issues and develop the skills necessary to go on to live a fulfilling life in recovery. They also support the families of people with substance misuse issues. www.addaction.org.uk/services/addaction-herefordshire
Money and mental health
Money and mental health are often linked. Poor mental health can make managing money harder and worrying about money can make your mental health worse. This website gives information about the relationship between money worries and mental health, with suggestions on how to address them.
Find information about support with housing here.
Our Vocational Services team can help you to find work. Find out more here.
Our Choice and Medication website helps you make a decision about medication and some treatments. The Trust’s pharmacy service supports staff, service users and carers in achieving safe and effective management of medicines. For more information, please visit our Choice and Medication website.
Pregnancy and mental health
If you have serious mental ill health now, or have done in the past, and are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, then it is important to get specialist advice. Getting specialist advice and guidance prior to becoming pregnant will help reduce the risks for you and your baby.
There is help and support available, so don’t be afraid to talk about how you are feeling with your midwife, GP or psychiatrist – they will be happy to discuss your particular problem and care with you. Women who have had previous serious mental ill health can be at higher risk of becoming unwell during pregnancy and after birth. Mental health professionals can discuss care and treatment choices and support you to make informed choices about managing your condition, including weighing up the benefits and risks of taking medication. They will help you make a plan to look after your mental health as your pregnancy progresses and once your baby is born.
If your pregnancy is unplanned, then you should inform your care coordinator or lead mental health professional as soon as you know you are pregnant, so they can help and support you. It is important a women’s mental health remains stable during pregnancy and after birth. There is increasing evidence that shows that untreated mental illness during this period can have a negative longer term effect on a baby’s development.
If you are pregnant, it is important that you don’t stop your medication suddenly, unless told to do so by your doctor. Stopping treatment suddenly may cause you to become unwell again more quickly and increase the risks for you and your baby. It can also cause side effects. It may be best for you to continue your medication during your pregnancy and if you choose to breastfeed. Mental illness can sometimes impact on a women’s ability to care for herself and her baby. It is also important to inform your midwife about your mental health condition and any medication you are taking. Do not treat yourself with herbal remedies without consulting your doctor.
Taking your medication whilst pregnant
If you are on medication, or specific medication has been suggested to you, the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website is a helpful resource. This free service gives the most up-to-date, evidence-based information for women and their families. This website is an excellent resource but please still discuss any medication changes with your doctor.
Did you know?
- Smoking is the primary reason for the 10 to 20 year shortened life expectancy for people with a mental health disorder. Smoking causes cancer, cardio vascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- People with mental health conditions consume 42 per cent of all tobacco bought in the UK
- Many think smoking is a mood enhancer – in fact it causes depression, stress and anxiety
- Smokers have a 79 per cent increased risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease
These are just some of the reasons why cutting down or giving up smoking altogether can have a huge impact on improving your health and wellbeing.
How to get help quitting
- If you are one of our service users, ask to speak to a Smokefree Champion or Quit Advisor
- If you live in Gloucestershire, visit hlsglos.org or ring 0800 122 3788
- You can also call the national Smokefree helpline on 0800 022 4332 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5pm)
- GPs can provide advice and prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products and most surgeries have nurses who offer a stop smoking service
- The national Smokefree website includes a wide range of support options and advice
- your name
- date of birth
- any other information which would help locate your file
Please note: there may be a charge for this service. If you think that information in your health records may not be accurate, please notify us in writing.
How we handle your information – guidance for service users and carers
If you receive services from us or you care for someone who does, you may want to learn more about how we handle personal information. This page explains why the trust keeps information (records) and how it maintains confidentiality.
Joining Up Your Information (JUYI) is the name for the new secure and integrated digital care record for Gloucestershire. It will enable health and social care staff to access clinical information to aid decision making. This will provide patients with safer, more consistent care, whether they are in hospital, at a GP surgery or anywhere else care is accessed. ²gether is one of the organisations involved in JUYI. You can read more about it on this website.
The Mental Health Act
When people are treated in hospital or another mental health setting, they have usually agreed or volunteered to be there. However, there are cases when a person can be detained (also known as sectioned) under the Mental Health Act (1983) and treated without their agreement.
People detained under the Mental Health Act need urgent treatment for a mental health disorder and are at risk of harm to themselves or others.
The Mental Health Act (1983) is the main piece of legislation that covers the assessment, treatment and rights of people with a mental health disorder.
Further information about the Mental Health Act (including advice for families and carers) can be found here
If you don’t want to stay in hospital, you can ask for some independent people to consider if the section should stay in place. This is called an appeal. Information about making an appeal against Section 2 of the Mental Health Act can be found here. If you want to make an appeal against Section 3 of the Mental Health Act, this leaflet explains how to do so.
A Community Treatment Order (CTO), is also known as Supervised Community Treatment (SCT). A CTO is used when a responsible clinician thinks that a person is well enough to leave hospital but is concerned they may not continue with their treatment or may need to be admitted to hospital again at short notice for more treatment.
If you do not want to stay on a CTO you can ask some independent people to consider if it should stay in place. This is called an appeal and this leaflet explains how to make an appeal.
News and views
Coronavirus is dominating the news at the moment, and while it’s completely normal to feel anxious about it, letting your fears run away with you is unlikely to help. Senior Working Well Counsellor Julia Foren has shared the following advice to help you manage your...
Ed Boait, an expert by experience with Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, has had a short story included in an e-book published to coincide with World Mental Health Day. Ed has been working with the Trust as an expert by lived experience for several...
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we are sharing stories of how people have benefited from ²gether services. Helen, age 40, from Gloucestershire, contacted Let’s Talk on the advice of her GP. She said: “My GP advised me that the chronic teeth grinding I had...
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we are sharing stories of how people have benefited from ²gether services. Sarah, from Cinderford, was referred to Let’s Talk by her GP, following a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), linked with stress,...
Stress is the focus of a series of events being held to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 14 to 20. Alex Burrage is Clinical Lead for ²gether’s Let’s Talk service, which supports people experiencing mental health conditions such as anxiety,...
If you’re experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or similar issues, there’s now a new way of getting support through digital therapies on the NHS. Let’s Talk is the local psychological therapies service provided free to anyone aged over 18 and registered with a...
Social media can be a force for good, encouraging users to turn to a supportive community that's been there. Instagram has already shown its commitment to mental health awareness by banning hashtags like #thinspo and allowing users to anonymously report another...
There is good evidence from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that self-help books can help people understand and manage common conditions, including depression and anxiety. At Let’s Talk we prescribe self-help books on a daily basis....
We do have a considerable number of men accessing Let’s Talk. For example 1,082 men accessed support through Let’s Talk between 1 April 2016 and 30 September 2016. However, it is true to say that more women use the service than men and there may be many reasons for...
Top tips to avoid stress when waiting for exam results
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