Dr Norah Chidothe is a Bedfordshire GP and is Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s clinical lead for mental health.
January is a time when a lot of people really get the blues. The festive season can leave some feeling lonelier than ever, especially if they are bereaved, and New Year can be a time of fear rather than happy expectation.
But remember that if you or someone you know feels like this, you are not alone: one person in four will experience some sort of mental ill-health.
What is really important is to seek help as soon as possible - there is all sorts of help and support locally. Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service provides free NHS support and treatment. The local campaign Break the Stigma challenges negative views about mental health and encourages people to be open and speak up to get the help they need. Find out about this inspiring campaign on Twitter @LetsBreakStigma More people now feel able to speak up and be brave enough to get the help they need.
How do you spot the signs?
The most common mental health condition is depression. You may notice a change of mood, behaviour or personality: perhaps being more withdrawn, no longer enjoying socialising or a favourite hobby. Someone who feels depressed may either eat or sleep a lot less, or a lot more than they used to.
Where can you turn to for help in Bedfordshire?
You might try speaking to your GP – who is trained to spot the signs of someone who is having a crisis or at risk. A GP can refer you to the Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service which offers free and confidential talking therapies and specialist support to help you feel better. You can also self-refer via the website which is just as quick as going via the GP.
But we know this approach doesn’t suits everyone, so your GP may suggest online help, or prescribe books, or medication. Bedfordshire CCG has a range of mental health self-help guides available online which also come as audio clips.
If someone who is already under the care of mental health services has a crisis, they can contact the team for urgent help. Emergency services in Bedfordshire and Luton are now supported by the Mental Health Street Triage team who can step in to get specialist help quickly to someone having a crisis and is unwell.
Children and young people under 18 can be referred by a GP to mental health services – with a same-day response for someone at high risk, and CHUMS provides an Emotional Wellbeing Service for children and young people in Bedfordshire. There is also mental health and wellbeing support available via all schools.
The Samaritans are available 24/7 and you can call them free at any time on 116 123 whatever you are going through.
In an emergency, or out of hours, you can find emergency crisis advice and helpline numbers on the Bedfordshire Wellbeing Service website, or go to your local A&E department.
Look after your mental health in 2017.