Mental health


Recent surveys in Scotland have suggested that 1 in 4 Scots are diagnosed with a mental illness each year; this is amongst the highest in Western Europe and is consequently an issue of great concern for NHS Scotland. The number of people receiving prescribed medication for mental illnesses has risen steadily for the last 15 years.

Examples of mental health issues

Depression: depression is a lot more serious than people often perceive; it is not just a period of feeling miserable or down. Depression can be caused by several physical, social and psychological factors which may include financial pressures, relationship break down, bereavement or loss, redundancy or unemployment or illness. Symptoms may include prolonged periods of sadness, lethargy, mood swings, a lack of motivation and feeling irritable and detached. Physical symptoms may include a lack of energy, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping and trouble with speech. Depression can cause you to struggle at work, college or school and make it difficult to interact and have relationships with others.

Mild depression can usually be relieved by addressing the source of the patient’s anxiety. More serious cases of depression are usually treated with a course of anti-depressants combined with counselling or therapy sessions; these are usually designed to confront the source of the problems and boost self-confidence. Many people also find changing their lifestyle benefits their mental health; this may include doing exercise or taking up a new hobby for example.


Severe anxiety can hamper people’s lives and cause them to become introverted. Causes of anxiety are generally similar to those associated with depression. Mild anxiety affects us all at some point in our lives and usually passes with time; however, prolonged anxiety can lead to heart palpitations, disturbed sleep, diarrhoea and headaches. Treatment for severe anxiety usually involves a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medication; most patients are advised to undergo CBT before they are prescribed medication. Additional measures such as exercising and allowing yourself time away from stressful situations may also help.


Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness which can have profound implications on an individual’s health. The cause of schizophrenia is unknown; however, many experts in the field assert that the condition is linked to stress. Symptoms of schizophrenia are usually divided into two categories, positive and negative; positive signs include hallucinating and changes in an individual’s metal state, while negative symptoms include a lack of emotion and personality; many people who suffer from this condition appear unmotivated and lacking in energy and charisma. Schizophrenia is usually treated with a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and medication; sometimes people with acute schizophrenia may have to be constantly observed in a clinical setting.

Help for mental illnesses

In additional to National Health Service treatments, support and advice is also available from a number of charitable organisations; these include Mind, the Mental Health Foundation and SANE. Other charities such as the Samaritans also offer emotional support and advice and you can contact them 24 hours a day.