Mental health, just like physical health, is something we all need to take good care of, as it can lead to a better quality of life.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not simply the absence of disease or illness.
Our physical and mental health and wellbeing are interlinked – one does not function optimally without the other.
Wellbeing is characterised by:
Good mental health is characterised by:
If your mental wellbeing stays low over long periods of time, you may be more likely to develop a mental health problem. Throughout life, we can all experience times of feeling down, worried or stressed, which may be triggered by different situations e.g. experiencing a personal bereavement, unemployment, money problems, under pressure at work, relationship problems or parenting. Also, the additional responsibility of following a PKU diet can for some cause added stress and anxiety.
In such circumstances, it is normal for our wellbeing to be affected however we usually recover after a brief period of time. If these difficulties persist, or if support is not optimal, mental health problems may occur, e.g. anxiety and depression. Having a long-term condition such as PKU may make you more vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems.
In recent years the message for PKU management is Diet for Life which aims to minimise symptoms of ‘brain fog’, irritability, poor concentration and tiredness which in turn helps promote positive wellbeing. If you are experiencing any of these, consider speaking to your metabolic team about improving your current low protein diet or if you are not currently following a low protein diet it’s worth considering returning to diet with your team. Better physical health, a healthier lifestyle and in turn a better quality of life can help you manage your PKU.
There are many things you can do to improve your mental wellbeing which in turn helps with your mental health.
There are 5 basic steps recommended by the New Economic Foundation, which are actions based on broad ideas that can help you think about what to do to improve your wellbeing.
We all need to look after our mental health and wellbeing, everyone is different and each of us have different coping strategies. Here are some ideas that include self-care and support:
If you are worried about your mental health or concerned that you might have a mental health problem, talk to your GP and/or metabolic team as soon as possible so they can advise you on suitable help and treatment as required.