Mental health: Introduction

Last updated: Thursday, June 16, 2016

You can download a PDF of this whole tutorial (it doesn't include the Learning Exercises)

This tutorial isn’t intended to be an in-depth review of mental health disorders and the drugs used to treat them, it's more of a guide to some of the commoner questions that you may encounter and tips on how to answer them. Because we’re focusing on frequently asked questions, this tutorial only discusses antidepressants and antipsychotics; for guidance on drugs used in other disease states such as bipolar disorder, anxiety and insomnia refer to the Information Sources.

  © Crown copyright 2017
One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. The frequency of some conditions such as depression is commonly expressed as the number of new cases annually (the incidence). For other conditions, such as schizophrenia, the frequency is given as the risk over a patient’s lifetime (their lifetime prevalence). Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common problem affecting nearly 10 people in every 100, each year. Personality disorders are also common, affecting between 3 to 5 people in every 100 over their lifetime. For statistics on other mental health conditions, MIND have a really clear summary and help on interpreting the figures.

To understand the impact of developing a mental health disorder upon patients’ lives, you may like to listen to a psychiatric nurse discussing his own depression, or to a patient describing his bipolar disorder and the importance of medicines in managing it. You can also read a mother's experience of postnatal depression.