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Looking after your mental health

If you're feeling low or anxious you are not alone. 1 in 4 people will have mental health problems at some point in their lives.

If you've been feeling low or depressed for more than a few weeks or your anxiety is affecting your daily life, make an appointment to speak to your GP.

Your GP will talk to you about your symptoms, how long you have been having them and how they are affecting your life. It can be helpful to write down a list of things you would like to ask your GP before you have your appointment.

For more common problems such as depression and anxiety, your GP can give you a diagnosis. For less common problems you will be referred to a mental health specialist in your local Community Mental Health Team (CMHT).

Community Mental Health Team

CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) NHS Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust Community Mental Health Teams operate across Dorset to support people at home and prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital. The CMHTs provide care, advice and information for people aged 18 and over with significant mental health problems, including:

  • schizophrenia and psychotic or delusional disorders
  • affective disorders such as mania, manic depression and moderate/severe depression
  • eating disorders
  • organic mental disorder
  • significant mental health problems following childbirth
  • phobias, anxiety disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • personality disorders that cause significant distress or risk to the individual or others.

Their goal is to help people manage, or recover from, their conditions and lead healthy, fulfilling lives. The friendly, specialist CMHT staff offer support with accessing housing and employment opportunities, as well as physical healthcare. Find out more information via their website or ask your GP to refer you to the service.

Staying healthy

Staying healthy is important for everyone, but making sure you stay fit and active and eat well can help to improve your mental wellbeing as well as helping you to stay physically healthy.

Things to do

Doing an activity you enjoy and talking to others can give you a boost. We have information about activities in our Directory of service including sports, arts and crafts, music and more.

Volunteering: Dorset Volunteer Centre is a good way to help yourself while helping others. 

Stay active outdoors

Being outdoors can increase your mental and physical wellbeing. This is sometimes called green therapy.

You can try a range of voluntary and paid occupational activities which use the outdoor environment as a form of therapy. Green therapy includes a large range of activities such as allotment schemes, plant nurseries, riding centres and care farms.

The Steps 2 Wellbeing service is a free, confidential, NHS service for people aged 18 and over. They provide a service across the county of Dorset for people registered at a Dorset GP surgery. They offer a range of treatments and can give support over the telephone, face-to-face, in groups, or via the internet.

Health walks are regular short guided walks by Walking for health, that take place every week throughout Dorset. These free walks offer a great opportunity to get out in the fresh air and meet new people as well as keeping you fit and healthy.

Books on prescription

Reading Well Books on Prescription can help you to understand and manage your health and wellbeing using self-help reading. The books are available to borrow from your local library.

Talking therapy and support groups

Talking therapy allows you to talk to a trained professional about how you are feeling and your experiences. They can help you to understand your feelings and behaviour.

Mind has information about talking therapies, how they work and what you can expect.

Going to a support group or attending an activity group with other people who are experiencing mental health problems can be a good way to get support and meet new people. We have a Community Directory with information for people with mental health problems.

Dorset Mental Health Forum runs various social activities, peer support and sports groups across Dorset.

Live Well Dorset

Live Well Dorset is a free of charge, public health service funded by your council. They support the health and wellbeing of residents in Dorset. They can provide help and support to get active, lose weight, stop smoking and drink less alcohol. Try the Five Ways Challenge, the five-step plan to take care of your wellbeing. Live Well Dorset tel: 0800 840 1628,

You can also try five introduction to mindfulness practices

Fresh Start Campaign

LiveWell Dorset has launched the Fresh Start campaign to try and motivate and support people coming out of lockdown. They are inviting people across the county to take advantage of some friendly support to give themselves a mental and physical boost as we start returning to some normality.
If you want to loose weight, become more active, give up smoking or reduce your alcohol intake, the LiveWell team has the tools to help, from weight loss vouchers and quit smoking packs to 1-2-1 coaching sessions. And it’s completely free. It’s time for a fresh start.

Every Mind Matters

NHS website Every Mind Matters has information to help you with your mental wellbeing. Having good mental health helps us relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. We have expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.

Online courses

Hope Programme

These free online courses help you to cope with life in lockdown. The courses are based on:

  • positive psychology
  • mindfulness
  • cognitive behavioural therapy

Course duration: 6 weeks. These courses will run every month.

Register for NHS Hope Programme

Useful Links 

Connection is a round-the-clock helpline for people of all ages, anywhere in Dorset, who are experiencing mental health problems and need support. Phone their 24/7 helpline on 0300 123 5440. Access a walk-in community front room in Bridport, Shaftsbury, or Wareham; or visit the Retreat in Bournemouth or Dorchester.  

NHS Choices has information about specific mental health problems.

Rethink has a large range of factsheets including what to expect when you talk to your GP, the Mental Capacity Act, treatments and recovery.

Mind has information about different medications, what you need to know before taking them and information about possible side effects.

You can access free easy ten-minute workouts from Public Health England or try other exercise videos at home on the NHS Fitness Studio. Sport England also has tips for keeping active at home.