A study carried out by BUPA and Mental Health First Aid England has found that 60% of people in the UK are unable to identify the symptoms of common mental health conditions. There appears to be an increased awareness of mental health issues, but knowledge on the specifics is lacking, which results in delays in people seeking treatment or failure to recognise the problems in others.
There were some positive findings; nine out of 10 people could identify symptoms of depression and over half could name the most common signs of anxiety.
While it’s great news that people are generally more aware about mental health, if more people understood the symptoms of specific conditions, it would mean that more people would seek help or be able to support a loved one sooner, and this would have a significant impact on recovery.
The study also found that half of people know about mental health issues because a friend or family member has a condition, and many others get their information from TV programmes and from celebrities sharing their experiences.
What are the most misunderstood health conditions?
According to the study, the most misunderstood mental health conditions are:
86% of people were unable to identify the common symptoms of this condition which can range from feeling sad, having no energy, and being unable to concentrate, to being hyperactive.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Many people believe that OCD is only about wanting things to be neat and tidy.
Other misconceptions that the study revealed included that 57% of people believed that people suffering from PTSD were violent and 54% of people believed that people with anxiety were afraid to go outside.
So, what are the symptoms of the most common mental health conditions?
Anxiety: Restlessness, feelings of dread, having trouble sleeping
Bipolar: Feeling sad, hopelessness, irritability, fatigue, inability to concentrate, memory problems
Depression: Enduring low mood, sadness, hopelessness, low self-esteem
OCD: Obsessive thoughts, urges, feeling anxious or distressed, repetitive behaviours
Phobias: Sweating, trembling, hot flushes or chills
PTSD: Flashbacks, nightmares, irritability
Mental Health First Aid can bridge the gap
Mental Health First Aid Training can help change people’s attitudes towards mental health, it increases their awareness of mental health issues, and gives them the confidence to support others. The training also gives them the message that people can and do recover from mental illness and it removes a lot of the stigma that is still, unfortunately attached to mental illness.
Mental Health First Aid is about recognising mental illness, being able to listen, reassure someone, and help them get the support they need to help them recover faster.
Our Mental Health First Aid training
Our Mental Health First Aid training course looks at what mental health is, introduces learners to common mental health conditions, how to challenge stigma, and how to properly help someone in distress. It also covers looking after their own mental health, as supporting someone who is unwell can be stressful and even distressing.
For more information on our Mental Health First Aid training courses, click here
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