What is mental health and wellbeing? 

A man with his thumbs up standing in front of a coloured drawing of flower petals

Mental health and wellbeing affects how we feel, what we think and the things we do.

A woman is pointing to the word 'Right' above a weighing scale which also has the word 'wrong' on the other side of the scale

Good mental health can help us make choices that are right for us. 

a woman in a wheelchair has her hand on another woman's shoulder. Behind them is a drawing of coloured flower petals

Having good emotional wellbeing can help us cope – even when things are difficult. 

Understanding mental health and how to help someone who is struggling

What is mental health easy read listing image

What is mental health?                

To keep good mental health and wellbeing, we need to understand what makes us feel good. 

Knowing how you feel is an important part of understanding your mental health.

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How to spot when someone is struggling

Everybody struggles from time to time as we go through life’s ups and downs.

It’s normal to feel down, but being able to spot how someone is feeling can make a big difference. 

Being a good listener easy read listing image

How to be a good listener

If you think someone is struggling with their mental health, you can help them by being a good listener.

There are things you can do to become a good listener.


The importance of self-care

Developing self-care routines and practices that work for you, helps reduce stress.

Find out more →

Looking after your emotional wellbeing

Everybody has emotional needs, so it is important for us to learn about how to look after them! 

Having good mental wellbeing can help you cope with challenges in life – both good and bad.  

If you care for a person with a learning disability , looking after your own wellbeing is really important too – it will help you support that person even better. 

How to improve your wellbeing

Researchers at the New Economics Foundation found that there are 5 big things we can all do to improve our emotional wellbeing. 

A drawing of a wellbeing symbol showing 5 different coloured flower petals - each petal has a word in it: Connect, Give, Be active, Take notice, Keep learning
Wellbeing Connect

Connect means connecting with the people around you.

This could look like... 

Asking your family about their day and paying close attention to what they share 

Finding an old photo of a friend and sharing that memory with them 

Speaking to someone on the phone or in person, rather than texting them 

Wellbeing Be Active

Be active means getting your body engaged in a way that’s comfortable for you.

This could look like... 

Dancing to your favourite song 

Getting out and about in nature 

Join a new sports team or club 



Wellbeing Take Note

Take notice means paying attention to what’s happening around you.

This could look like... 

Think about the things you’re best at, and how you can make the most of them 

Think about who inspires you and why 

Try mindfulness exercises, or a spot of meditation 


Wellbeing Keep Learning

Keep learning means learning new things about the world.

This could look like... 

Researching your favourite topic or interest 

Ask other people how they are feeling and why 

Try a new hobby 

Wellbeing Give

Give means finding ways to give back to those around you.

This could look like.. 

Saying thank you to someone who has helped you 

Volunteer your time to help someone else 

Give someone a high five! 

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If you start doing these things when you feel good about yourself and your life, they can help you when things are difficult. 


Where to get help if you need it

Sometimes – no matter how hard you try, or how well you prepare – you might start to feel very down. That’s OK – it’s normal to feel this way sometimes. 

If you are worried about your feelings, or it seems like things are not getting better, you can talk to your GP or use the NHS website to look for local mental health support.  

We also asked people with a learning disability and their families to suggest useful and accessible resources that might be able to help. 

The earlier you ask for help, the better.  

For people with a learning disability

The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities have created a series of Feeling Down guides. They include helpful tools to keep track of how you’re feeling, and can also help you get ready to speak to your GP about your mental health.  

NAC Wellbeing offer resources and courses designed to help families and professionals to support people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

For carers

BILD have created a trauma-informed toolkit for carers. It’s a practical tool for both family and paid carers to help understand what trauma is and how it might affect a person with a learning disability. 

NAC Wellbeing also offer guidance to support carer wellbeing.  

For professionals

The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities has developed a positive practice guide to support anyone involved in delivering talking therapies for anxiety and depression to people with a learning disability. 

Other organisations who might also be able to help

Mencap is a learning disability charity. While people with a learning disability can experience problems with their mental health, our teams are not experts on this topic.  

If you need help with your mental and emotional health, there are lots of charities that specialise in this area who can help. Some of the organisations we’ve listed below offer a listening service , and some offer practical advice and guidance.  

Samaritans: Offers a free space to talk about the things troubling you. They won’t tell you what to do or how to feel. You can call, email or visit in person.  

Hub of Hope: Provided by Chasing the Stigma, this database lists local and national mental health services in one place.

Frazzled Café: Free online meetings that provide a confidential and non-judgemental place to get peer support.

Mind: Provides advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem.  

Young Minds: Mental health charity that provides young people with tools to look after their mental health. 

Supportline: A confidential helpline offering emotional support for children, young adults and adults on any issue.

Shout: A free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope.   

SANEline: A national out-of-hours mental health helpline offering specialist emotional support to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers. 

Rethink Mental Illness: Offers practical help on a wide range of topics such as The Mental Health Act, as well as general information on living with mental illness, medication and care. 

C.A.L.M.: You can call, chat online or access guides to help with mental health and emotional wellbeing.