Useful Definitions

Mental Health:

Mental health is about how healthy our mind is and how well it is working, it is about our thoughts, feelings and emotions and how we cope with the ups and downs of life.

'Mental health is the emotional and spiritual resilience which enables us to enjoy life and to survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of well-bring and an underlying belief in our own worth and the dignity and worth of others' (HEA, 1997).

It has been suggested that two key skills are necessary for positive mental health:
- To learn not only to cope but also to prosper in the face of adversity
- The ability to create feelings of profound pleasure and happiness through healthy positive means (Dr Nick Baylis, Cambridge University).

In plain language, good mental health is about enjoying the 'ups', managing the 'downs', and bouncing back.

1 in 4 people suffer from mental ill health at some stage in their life.


The most common form of mental ill health experienced. Depression is what is known as a mood disorder. It is a serious medical illness which leaves a person feeling sad or miserable most of the time and finding it hard to cope from day to day.

It is estimated that around 7.5% of the population suffer from depression at any point in time. In Northern Ireland, where there is a 25% higher incidence of mental health problems than England, this equates to about 100,000 people. Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression as men, though mental health problems are more common among 11-16 year old boys than among girls of the same age (Bamford Report, 2006). Up to 1 in 5 teenagers and 1 in 50 children are thought to suffer from depression.

The number of children with significant emotional or behavioural difficulties has doubled since the 1970s to 1 in 6. In a recent survey conducted by YouthGov for the Prince's Trust and published in 2009:

- Half of teenagers say they are stressed most of the time
- 1 in 4 are often or always depressed
- 1 in 10 don't believe life is worth living.

The Samaritans claim that mental ill health is a significant factor in 90% of suicides, with depression a significant factor in at least 60% of cases.

2 teenagers in every class room will have self-harmed according to the Mental Health Foundation. In the above study, 1 in 5 teenagers claim to have self-harmed, with the figure rising to 1 in 3 girls.

Bi-polar depression:

Also known as manic depression. About 1 in 10 people, who experience severe depression, also have periods when they feel 'high' or elated. Bipolar depression tends to run in families and usually beings between the early teens and forties but can commence at any stage.

Post-natal depression:

A form of depression which affects at least 10-15% of women in the first year after having a baby.
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