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An interview with AXA PPP healthcare’s Dr Mark Winwood

Once upon a time I was ashamed of my mental health issues; I would try and hide them and in doing so only made them all the more obvious. In many ways back then they had taken over my life, I was just a bundle of mental health issues, unable to really control them. These days while I'm not going to pretend I'm 100%, completely cured and better, that day will likely never come as the issues I suffer with are life long and stem right back to my early childhood. However, compared to the place I once was I am a lot better.

Sadly the stigma of mental health issues still runs deep, so many people talk about those with mental issues, as if that is all there is about that person. They seem to forget behind those issues is a human, a human that is suffering and needs kindness and understanding, not the cutting mickey taking comments that can make things worse. Mental Health illnesses can sadly be fatal, they are illnesses that affects everyone close to the person and can be utterly devastating on so many levels.

Not long ago I was given the opportunity to ask Mark Winwood, the Director of Psychological Services at AXA PPP Healthcare a few questions about his take on mental health and the services out there, these are his responses:

Dr Mark Winwood NEW

1. What are the more prevalent mental health conditions?
Thanks to medical and technological developments over the last few years, we’re far better equipped to spot and treat the signs of mental ill health. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental ill health conditions and awareness of these is increasing. For example, there is far more awareness now of the importance of peri-natal screening depression, which is certainly a move in the right direction.

2. How could people deal with negativity in regards to their mental health? Some professionals dismiss the ideas of mental health; is there any reasoning behind doing so?
We very much encourage an open dialogue around the topic of mental ill health and we want to break down the stigma that still exists around talking about mental health. Ultimately, our aim is for people to talk about their mental health as easily as they talk about their physical health. We appreciate that it can be challenging for individuals who face negativity about mental ill health to be forthcoming about their condition in isolation. There are no easy answers to overcoming the ignorance and fear that underpin people’s prejudices toward mental illness. It is our hope the continuing efforts of government, health and business leaders to increase people’s awareness and understanding of the importance of mental health will help to overcome this. In the meantime, individuals affected by mental ill health can be reassured they are not alone. Help is available – for example, from specialist charities such as Anxiety UK, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and from healthcare professionals such as their GP.

3. What reasoning do you think there is behind a rise in mental ill health diagnoses? Is this due to increase in every day stress, financial worries, employment no longer being secure?
There could be a number of reasons. Increasingly we spend our lives switched-on to the news, our email and work. This can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety as we find ourselves unable to escape the daily grind. We may also be seeing a rise in mental ill health diagnoses in the UK simply because people are talking about it more – in this way, the rise can be seen as a positive thing; but only if we are prepared to effectively help the people coming forward. AXA PPP healthcare’s mental health centre offers resources and information to support people in managing their mental health.

An interview with AXA PPP healthcare’s Dr Mark Winwood

4. What do you think is effective in keeping a healthy mind?
There are a number of things you can do to keep your mind healthy. AXA PPP healthcare has been tackling the stigma around talking about mental health by likening it to physical health. We listen to advice on how to eat well and exercise to prevent us from getting cancer, so why not the same for mental health?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle will help with both your physical and mental wellbeing so make sure you get plenty of exercise, eat wholesome nutritious food, and get enough sleep.

5. Where do you see mental health (attitudes and stigma, research and development) in the future?
I think we are already taking a step in the right direction. Our research found that over half (57 per cent) of managers we surveyed said they thought they would be just as comfortable having a conversation with an employee in their company about their mental health as they would be having a conversation about their physical health.*
There is a growing awareness of the subject thanks to charities such as Mind, celebrities and other public figures talking openly about their own mental health issues. I believe this awareness will continue to grow, and hope that one day it will be no more unusual for someone to talk about their depression as it would be to talk about their broken leg.

6. Where can one find more advice if they are concerned about mental ill health?
With mental ill health becoming a more accepted subject, there are many places where you can find resources if you are concerned about your own or someone else’s mental health, or want to build your mental resilience.

There are a number of charities which specialise in helping those with mental ill health, for example, Anxiety UK, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness offer information on their websites and helplines if you need to talk to someone.

AXA PPP healthcare’s website also has a mental health centre which includes support for a variety of issues from anxiety to depression.

*OnePoll survey of 1000 employed adults who manage staff, conducted December 2015.

With that I shall leave you to it, I hope you have all found this as interesting, as I did to read and it has perhaps given you a bit of insight into mental health and those who work with people suffering. 

Sarah_with_some_heart resize

This article has 72 comments

  1. Nikki

    What a great post. It can be so hard to speak out about mental health issues. People just dont understand it especially employers.!

  2. Steffie

    Another great post Sarah, given my situation I am extremely wary of opening up about my mental health issues, my GP is unable to give me a diagnoses and support has been abysmal. It’s really just been down to my partner and I to manage how we can.

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      It is sad that it is such a underfunded issue, that really needs more put into it in so many ways. For years I had a CPN I would see weekly. When she retired I was told, oh sorry you won’t see anyone now as we only offer 7 weeks of help. I was so shocked.

  3. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    I think that there used to be a lot of stigma around mental health, but not so much any more and that’s because more and more people are talking about it.

  4. Shirley Wood

    Having conversations like this one helps to open the line of communication and educate others. So glad you shared.

  5. Sarahjane

    I’m glad you got the opportunity to speak to an expert like him. It seems almost taboo to speak about mental health issues which is so frustrating because it would help so many people

  6. Taylor Ebner

    My husband actually suffers from anxiety, and the medicine he was given before helped, but he couldn’t take it when he decided to join the military. I know that him keeping a positive mindset and taking care of himself has helped tremendously. He has not taken medicine in a year and a half, and now he does so well that nobody knows he has a mental health issue!

  7. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    This was a very interesting read. I like the section on dealing with stress. I have A LOT of stress. LOL

  8. Jeanine

    Great info and very informative. I stress a LOT probably more than I should, but I’m working on it and hoping to decrease any and all stress! These are great points to make, and there needs to be more chatter about mental illness.

  9. Pam

    I never thought about why there could be a rise in diagnoses of mental health issues. I agree that stressful jobs and always being connected to the news can be very stressful!

  10. William Sweeney

    It really is sad how some mental health problems are not diagnosed or treated right. What a great interview to get to do!

  11. Theresa

    I’m glad that mental health isn’t getting swept under the rug so much anymore. It’s good that more and more people are opening up and shining light on the issues. AXA PPP sounds like they have great resources for those who need help.

  12. Liz Mays

    This is very interesting. Anxiety and depression seem to be very common. More people need to be open to talking about it.

  13. Lindsey Paris

    Thank you for putting this out there. If more people were accepting of mental health issues and dedicated to it’s care, I’m sure people would feel a lot better and less taboo.

  14. Mitch

    This is a great topic to keep talking about. I live with someone who won’t get help, and the just live in the anxiety. You have to admit the issue before you can do anything.

  15. Zoe L

    Such an interesting read. I’m sure mental health would be a lot better if more people were accepting of it.

  16. Marcie W.

    I certainly feel as if a huge stigma is put on mental health and it is beyond time to break the silence. Support is crucial and no one should have to suffer alone.

  17. Val

    What a great interview to share, thanks for more information. I enjoyed learning more about this!

  18. Northern Crumble

    Great post. Not many people know about mental health so it was nice reading this

  19. Heather @ Kraus House Mom

    Excellent interview. There are a few members in my family that suffer from various forms of mental illness. My husband has worked with several people with mental health issues. It seems more people are seeking the help they need.

  20. Sarah

    I hear a lot on mental health these days, it’s important to open up the conversation about it to educate others!

  21. Brandy

    I have many family members who deal with mental health issues, it’s saddening to see the judgement that occurs to those people who suffer. Glad you are talking about this!

  22. Michele d

    What an informative article on mental health. I know there is plenty of people who frown upon it but it’s so helpful if we learn more about it and how to help.

  23. Chrystal | Nevermore Lane

    I am a huge advocate for breaking down stereotype of those with mental health disorders as I have been battling mine for most of my life. This was a great interview.

  24. Angelic Sinova

    I really enjoyed this post. I feel like mental health issues are often glossed over and not talked about but we need to get more of a dialogue going about them.

  25. Fashion and Style Police

    This is very informative. Good you are raising awareness. Eating healthy and exercise helps the state of mind.

  26. Nicole Escat

    People should be dealing with mental issues. It is one of the most taken for granted issues.

  27. Ryan Escat

    What a wonderful interview with the doctor. Mental health should be taken care of.

  28. Kali filsell

    I don’t think many people understand mental health unless they’ve been there themselves . Most people think you can just snap out of it or control it but sadly that’s not the case

  29. Seattle Travel Blogger

    It sounds like the acceptance and movement towards understanding mental health issues is moving in the right direction.
    It is good because this is a topic that needs to come out of the shadows.

  30. Noel Barnwell

    I love this post. Its true that there is a stigma behind mental health that needs to be abolished. Very informative and wonderful interview. Thanks for such a great post on a much needed topic!

  31. Tara| C&CO.

    What a great opportunity and fantastic read. You should be proud of this Sarah!

  32. Bella B (xoxoBella)

    I am hearing so much more about anxiety and depression lately…which can only be a good thing. Very informative!

  33. Hannah

    This was such a great read – thank you so much for sharing x

  34. ana

    Well said and that is why for so many years I was not open about my own mental health issues because I was always judged for being open about mental health. As he said what people can’t see they will judge and I was always told I was a drama queen. I think that you are brave and I think I can guess what your mental health issues stem from because I recall reading the posts about the abuse you faced and I am sorry for that xx

  35. Sharon H

    Such an important subject which is sadly still too often misunderstood. I just wish the NHS funding was better as at the moment people cannot get the help they need and to me it’s a disgrace.

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      This is so very true – I don’t have much help these days as they only offer it for so many weeks and then you have to go back to the beginning and I feel like you can’t learn to trust someone so quickly so I am better off without. x

  36. Rachel

    A great misconception because there is still so much unknown about mental health, all those who do speak out and are open about theirs should feel so proud of themselves, because I am sure they speak for so many people x

  37. Jessica

    All should read this to increase awareness and how innovations have been done with mental health issues.

  38. Cinny

    So many people have mental health issues. It’s not as simple as it may seem on the surface.

  39. Louise Bishop

    Depression and anxiety seem so widespread and commonplace anymore. I am glad you are at a place where you can talk about mental health. I wish more were able to.

  40. Michelle

    Great article. It really made me stop and think about how much stress we have to deal with on a daily basis. We need to do better with mental health issues and let those who suffer with them know that they are not alone.

  41. MELISASource

    What a great and informative interview. I’m glad that these health issues are getting more awareness.

  42. Dawn McAlexander

    This is a great interview. I often hear of the stigma associated with any kind of Mental Illness. You are right when saying that when people talk about a person with mental illness, they talk as if that is the only thing about a person.

  43. Rosey

    How wonderful that you got to do the interview. I think it’s important to bring awareness too, to def. negate the stigma.

  44. Miss Kitty Kaos

    what a fab thing to get to do and such an interesting interview too x

  45. Kita

    This is an excellent interview! I know a few people with diagnosed mental health issues and it’s a shame the lack of support and the stigmas they face. It’s an illness not a crime!

  46. Ana Elizabeth

    This topic is really interesting, I enjoyed reading this. Great interview! This should be shared to everyone.

  47. Katy Stevens

    What a great post! Mental health issues are so much more important than some people realise!

  48. Jennifer Henry-Novich

    Mental health issues are definitely tough to talk about most of the time. This is such a great and inspiring post.

  49. ricci

    Mental Illness is a real thing and I feel like it gets such a bad rap. Great post.

  50. Ann Bacciaglia

    We need to talk about mental health more. It is such an important subject and so many people feel like it is taboo to talk about. It affects so many people.

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      It is so sad that it is such a taboo subject, I just don’t get why people shy away from it as it is something that affects so many people. x

  51. Karlaroundtheworld | Karla

    How I would love to hear more from him. The most important part with this one is how he answered in response to negativity and it’s true, there really is no easy way out for it.

  52. Rebecca Phillips

    All over social media (especially red top newspaper sites) you hear about lives being lost due to people not having adequate help. I suffered with depression after the birth of my first child and I was actually embarrassed to see my GP in case I was turned away or they thought I was making it up. My almost 60 year old dad suffers with anxiety and depression and his is taken very seriously and he is getting the help he needs. This makes me hopeful that we are taking a step in the right direction. Like you, he isn’t fully “better”. He rings me and tells me how he is, his good days and bad days but he’s coping 🙂 you had some fab questions to ask and I hope others read Mark’s answers and learn a little.

  53. Mimi Green

    Great info, I suffer from anxiety so I’m familiar with some of the things mentioned.

    While I’m open about my issues I realize that others aren’t.

  54. Tracey

    Such an interesting read. The article was informative but also personal. Mental health touches so many so thank you for sharing this.

  55. Brittany

    This is a great post and great awareness! keep sharing! These are important messages. Mental health issues are often over looked and misunderstood

  56. Sam Bresnahan

    I have been eagerly awaiting the replies to the questions.
    Some very interesting answers and nice to see then answered in a different way to many others would.

  57. Ali Duke

    I suffer with depression and anxiety which has been made worse by the sad loss of my dad. I feel like people think there is nothing wrong, I’m just looking for attention or something. I’m lucky that my doctor is very supportive. I do think more people are aware of mental health issues , but still don’t want to talk about them.

    • Sarah-Louise Bailey

      I am so glad you have a supportive doctor, I’ve seen my far share of good and bad ones and having one who listens makes so much difference. x

  58. Garf

    Great post and informative. I suffer homesickness, especially during winters and fortunately it would go right away after getting out of the house.

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