Mental Health

What do we mean by mental health and wellbeing?

Mental health problems range from worries about everyday life through to serious long-term conditions. The most common mental health symptoms are depression, anxiety or panic. These are severe forms of ‘normal’ emotional experiences that affect our ability to get on with our daily lives. National surveys have found that 1 in 6 people in the past week will have experienced a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression. Recent research has shown that two-thirds of adults say that they have experienced mental ill-health at some point in their lives. There are also more severe forms of mental illness such as bipolar disorder (characterised by periods of depression and hyperactivity) and schizophrenia (characterised by withdrawal and often hallucinations). Between one and two people in every 100 experience these forms of mental illness.

You can learn more about common mental health disorders (CMHD), their prevalence in Wakefield and the services available for people suffering from them, by visiting the common mental health disorders page.

You can also learn more about the types of severe mental illness (SMI) and their prevalence and treatment in Wakefield, by visiting the severe mental illness page.

By taking a few simple steps we can all improve our mental wellbeing. These steps can be grouped into five categories, which have been called the “Five ways to wellbeing”. You can read more about what they are, and how you can improve your wellbeing on the Wakefield Council “Five ways to positive wellbeing” page.

The Public Health Report is an annual independent assessment of the state of health in residents within Wakefield District; the 2017 report ‘Better Mental Health for All’ focusses on mental health and can be accessed here.

Risk factors affecting mental health

There are many things that are part of our lives and occur in life that can impact on an individuals mental health and wellbeing. Risk factors for mental health start very early in life and can even occur before birth (e.g. due to substance misuse during pregnancy) and continue through childhood (around 50% of mental illness develops before the age of 14) and into adulthood. Factors that increase the risk of a person developing poor mental health or wellbeing can be grouped into ‘Individual’, ‘Social’ and ‘Environmental’ factors, and you can gain more information about the size of these issues in Wakefield by following the relevant link in the table below:

LevelRisk FactorJSNA page
IndividualAlcohol misuseAlcohol page
SmokingSmoking in Adults page
Drug misuseDrug use in adults
SocialCrime and violenceCommunity safety page
PovertyPoverty page
UnemploymentEconomy and employment page
EnvironmentalPoor access to servicesAccess to services page
Poor housing conditionsHousing and transport page
Noisy environmentNoise page

Protective factors of mental health

There are many factors that can protect us from poor mental wellbeing, many of which are the inverse of the risk factors. For example, unemployment is a well-established risk factor for poor mental health whereas returning to or finding good work is a protective factor. Maintaining a healthy diet, taking regular physical exercise, not smoking, and drinking alcohol within recommended guidelines are also protective factors. You can find out more about the protective factors of mental health by following the relevant link in the table below:

LevelProtective factorLink
IndividualGood levels of physical activityPhysical activity page
Maintaining healthy eatingDiet and nutrition in adults page
SocialGood health in early yearsMaternal behaviours page
Good educationEducation and skills page
Economic securityEconomy and employment page
EnvironmentalPhysical security and safetyCommunity safety page
Equality of access to servicesAccess to services page