Mental health difficulties can affect someone’s thought processes, feelings, actions, behaviours and personality.
Everyone experiences times when their mental health is better or worse. Mental health becomes a difficulty if it affects someone’s ability to manage day-to-day life.
Mental health problems are hugely varied, as are the effects they have on people. Some people may experience mental health problems for a short amount of time, whilst for others they may be longer-lasting.
Vulnerability to exploitation
Poor mental health can impact on people’s daily life, relationships, social life, employment and finances, making life more challenging and stressful. These impacts may lead to wider issues such as substance misuse, isolation, poor physical health and homelessness. These factors can increase vulnerability to abuse and exploitation.
People experiencing mental health difficulties may seek, or become dependent on, others who can offer them emotional or practical support. The care-giver may use this relationship of trust and dependency to abuse or exploit the individual. They may make their offer of support dependent on the person participating in an exploitative situation, or they may act in a coercive, controlling and violent way.
Mental health difficulties can affect people’s ability to tell others that they are being abused or exploited. The nature of their difficulties may make it difficult for them to seek help and support from friends, family and support services. During episodes when their mental health difficulties are particularly severe they may not fully recognise that they are being abused or exploited.
Mental health difficulties may arise from past experience of trauma, abuse or exploitation. The lasting impacts of these experiences on people’s lives can increase their vulnerability to further exploitation.