Mental Health 101: A crash course on causes and symptoms

Wellbeing in Your Office and Diverse Minds UK Ltd

This blog is written by Gosia Federowicz, co founder of Wellbeing in Your Office and Leyla Okhai, CEO and director of Diverse Minds UK Ltd

Mental health is a critical aspect of our overall wellbeing, affecting individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

Despite the prevalence of mental health issues, many people struggle to identify symptoms and seek the help they need.

Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing, and affects how we think, feel, and behave.

This blog will explore the causes and symptoms of mental health problems, and provide practical tips on how to get help.


Causes of mental health

Mental health issues can arise from a variety of factors, including biological, environmental, and social influences.

Some common causes of mental health issues include

  • Genetics
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Chronic stress
  • Substance abuse
  • Chronic pain
  • Illness


Symptoms of mental health

The symptoms of mental health issues can vary widely depending on the individual and the specific condition.

Some common symptoms of mental health issues include changes in mood, behaviour, and thinking patterns.

These changes may manifest as

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Sleeping deprivation
  • Inability to perform daily tasks

It is important to note that mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or background.

Psychological factors can also play a significant role in mental health. Low self-esteem, and unhealthy coping mechanisms can all contribute to the development of mental health problems.


What is stress?

Stress is a word that is widely used and well understood. However, it has different meanings and context for everyone. It’s far easier to speak about stress than mental-ill health.

One reason being that stress usually comes from an external source, whereas mental-ill health still carries stigma due to many thinking it’s a problem within the person.  

Stress is a natural response when someone feel in danger, whether physical or impending perceived work “dangers”.

Stress can be broken down into three types as follows:

Acute stress

Acute stress results from our body’s reaction to a new or challenging situation. It’s that short-lived feeling we all know well when we must do something we don’t want to. Like taking an exam or going to that meeting we know is going to be challenging.

We can also experience acute stress related to something positive such as achieving an award or receiving a promotion, as it can feel overwhelming.

After the stressful event has passed, our adrenalin-fuelled feelings and the body usually return to their normal state soon after the event.


Episodic acute stress

Episodic acute stress is when acute stresses (as outlined above) happen on a frequent basis. This could be due to family care responsibilities, being micro-managed at work via bullying emails or working in frontline crisis services.

With episodic stress there isn’t time to return to a relaxed state for longer periods of time. We are often concerned about the next crisis or negative event and how we will handle it. The result of these regular episodes of stress means the stress accumulates. We are essentially moving from one crisis to another.


Chronic stress

As the name suggests this is ongoing stress with little to no reprieve. It can be systemic, so there isn’t always an easy way to change or “fix” the situation. For example, living in unsafe and insecure housing, working in the gig-economy with little stability or ongoing caring responsibilities with no respite.

Clearly, feeling constant stress has a negative impact both physically and mentally. Stress has a significant impact on the body. With chronic stress we will often experience headaches, muscle tension, nausea and other physical symptoms.


Stress and mental-ill health

Stress can be the first rung on the ladder to developing mental ill-health. We can also get used to the sensations and feelings of stress quite easily. Thinking, this is how it has to be.

Stress is very common, with one in six British workers experiencing stress in any given year. A UK-wide stress survey carried out by the Mental Health Foundation found that 74 per cent of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt unable to cope.

This has become worse due to the external pressures we face managing the cost of living crisis, energy bills, food costs and the pressure to go back to face-to-face working.

Leyla Okhai

How to get help?

Reaching out for help can be difficult, but it is crucial to getting the care and support you need. There are resources available for individuals experiencing mental health issues, including mental health professionals, or support groups.

Mental health first aid training is also available to help individuals recognize and respond to mental health crises. Seeking help early can improve outcomes and increase the likelihood of recovery.

Additionally, the mental health charity Samaritans offer free 24/7 support throughout the UK. They can be contacted by calling 116 123.



Counselling is another helpful resource for those struggling with mental health issues.

Counselling involves talking to a trained professional about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, with the goal of developing coping strategies and achieving personal growth.

Counselling can help individuals manage symptoms of mental health issues, improve relationships, and enhance overall wellbeing. Counselling can be done individually, with a partner, or in group settings, and can be accessed through GPs, private practitioners, or community organizations.



In conclusion, mental health is a critical component of overall wellbeing, and identifying symptoms and seeking help is crucial for those experiencing mental health issues.

Mental health issues can arise from a variety of factors and can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or background.

There are many resources available for those experiencing mental health concerns, including mental health professionals, support groups, and counselling. Seeking help early can improve outcomes and increase the likelihood of recovery.

It is important to remember that seeking help for mental health issues is a sign of strength, not weakness.

With the right support and treatment, individuals can manage their symptoms and improve their overall wellbeing.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, do not hesitate to reach out for help. Remember, there is no shame in seeking help for mental health concerns, and you are not alone.