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Ülemiste Nursing Home’s mental health nurse Liisa Johanson, from the Ülemiste Psychiatric Centre, explains when mental health really needs help and how to spot it.

DO YOU RECOGNISE YOURSELF? These are signs that it’s time to see a mental health professional. There are those who think mental health problems will go away on their own. In doing so, they are doing themselves a disservice. But sometimes you don’t need to see a psychologist, you can get help from a mental health nurse. Liisa Johanson, a mental health nurse at Ülemiste Health Centre, explains what the job is and how to recognise when it’s time to see a specialist.

“Mental health nursing has gained popularity in recent years because there is a great need for such a specialist. A mental health nurse is a specialist with specific skills and knowledge, whose competences include assessing health conditions and analysing health risks, counselling patients and their loved ones, and promoting their coping in everyday life on the basis of mental disorder,” says Liisa Johanson, mental health nurse at Ülemiste Health Centre.

Lately, mental health concerns are showing an upward trend. “Often when a person comes to see me, they say they feel bad, they have constant anxiety or crying, but they don’t understand what’s happening to them,” comments Liisa, adding that many people with sleep problems also come to see her, and a large proportion of people who come to see her are those who don’t have mental health problems themselves, but are worried about a loved one.

At many of her appointments, Liisa teaches breathing techniques, gives personalised dietary and exercise advice and, if necessary, refers people to a psychologist or psychiatrist. “People often don’t know how to breathe properly, which sometimes even seems surprising. When breathing, one should make sure that not only the chest and shoulders rise, but also the abdomen, back and sides move.” She has also found that yoga can be of great help. “Yoga is a good way to switch off. Take 60 minutes, breathe and move. Personally, I like a more fast-paced and moving style like Vinyasa yoga. Then you have that ‘workout’ feeling afterwards. And then all the movements into the postures are done through breathing, which I always guide in class.”

According to Liisa, those with mental health concerns should analyse themselves. There are some signs that should not be waited any longer but booked an appointment with a specialist. “Signs that indicate that it is time to see a specialist with mental health problems are, for example, the feeling of not being able to breathe, fear of death. Difficulty concentrating, lots of thoughts in the head, irritability, constant sadness, sleepiness, difficulty falling asleep, waking too early, constant night wakings. Self-blame. May not

no longer be able to work, socialise or take care of yourself.” Liisa says she has also seen people in very deep depression who no longer talk to their loved ones or are motivated to do anything. “This is the kind of state that happens when you let things get worse and hope that maybe it will go away. But it will only pass if you deal with the problem and yourself,” she says.

Book an appointment with a mental health nurse at Ülemiste Tervisemaja by phone +37256725181 or e-mail: info@upk.ee