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Noble mental health, or how to find help in coping with mental difficulties

Mental health is an essential component of our general well-being. Good mental functioning, which involves experiencing balanced emotions, building relationships based on trust, coping effectively with everyday challenges, being motivated to take up new tasks or being able to concentrate and act creatively, determines our quality of life to a large extent.

Our mental health is influenced by such factors as an individual’s unique characteristics (ability to manage one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others) as well as social, cultural, economic and political conditions (WHO 2013). In Poland, every fifteenth person in the age group 18-64 assesses their mental health in a negative way (6.8%), and nearly every fourth adult (23.4%) has experienced at least one mental disorder during their lifetime (Moskalewicz et al. 2012). 

When you need to face a number of overwhelming challenges every day, it is worth asking a close person to listen to you. A trusted friend is often able to understand your concerns and help you to find solutions to your problems. However, when depression, fatigue or atypical agitation, irritability, feelings of intense anxiety, negative self-talk or difficulty concentrating do not go away but become your new reality making it impossible to function, you should seek professional help. In some cases, e.g. of people with mild depression, a GP can make an initial diagnosis, suggest medication or refer you to a psychiatrist for a specialist consultation. A psychologist or psychotherapist will help you to take a closer look at your situation and understand the causes of your persistent problems. A professional may suggest a therapy and/or encourage you to contact a psychiatrist. 

If an undergraduate, graduate or doctoral student of the Jagiellonian University needs support, it is a good idea to start looking for professional help at the Student Centre for Support and Adaptation (SOWA), which, if necessary, will support the person seeking assistance. SOWA provides crisis support and psychological support tailored to the student’s situation. 

An adult may obtain assistance under the National Health Service as part of a standard procedure which involves contacting the Mental Health Centre with competency over your residence area. For example, if you live in the area of the former district of Kraków-Śródmieście, you can contact the University Mental Health Centre established at the University Hospital (a list of streets in Kraków included in this district ). The first contact may be face-to-face at the Registration and Coordination Centre, by telephone or electronically (contact details can be found at the end of this article). You do not need a referral to see a specialist. When contacting the Centre, you can expect an initial consultation and interview with a psychologist or, if necessary, a referral to an outpatient clinic. In the outpatient clinic, i.e. the facility providing emergency assistance, you can make an appointment with a psychiatrist who will suggest what kind of further assistance is needed, e.g. a consultation with a psychologist, psychotherapy or more comprehensive treatment, e.g. in a day ward or 24-hour care or community care. A list of centres offering treatment in a given town or district, including the earliest available dates, funded by the National Health Fund (NFZ) can be found at the NFZ website at

Professional assistance can also be obtained at a therapist’s private practice. However, if you decide to pay for psychotherapy, it is worth making sure that the professional you choose is certified by a psychotherapy school and works under supervision. The psychotherapy offered by mental health outpatient clinics, hospital wards or private psychotherapy offices can be individual or group-based. Depending on the individual’s needs and the therapist’s approach, the psychotherapeutic process can last from several months to several years. Seeking help is the first step towards improving your coping skills and starting a therapy may become an opportunity to spread your wings. 

Coordinated University Mental Health Center

address: ul. Kopernika 21a, opening hours: Mon - Fri 8.00 AM - 6.00 PM. 
tel.: + 48 600 081 447, + 12 424 87 57 

Reference literature

Moskalewicz Jacek, Kiejna Andrzej, Wojtyniak Bogdan (ed.) Kondycja psychiczna mieszkańców Polski. Raport z badań „Epidemiologia zaburzeń psychiatrycznych i dostęp do psychiatrycznej opieki zdrowotnej – EZOP Polska”. Warszawa: Instytut Psychiatrii i Neurologii, 2012. 

Whiteford, Harvey A et al., Global burden of disease attributable to mental and substance use disorders: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, in: “The Lancet”, 382:9904, p. 1575 – 1586, 2013. 

WHO, Mental health action plan 2013-2020, 2013, source: [Online access]: 29.09.2020 

About the author

Anna Prokop-Dorner – sociologist and psychologist, assistant professor at the Department of Medicine Sociology of the Jagiellonian University Medical College. Her research interests involve the social context of mental health, the strategies of coping with the stigma of a mental illness, the cultural conditioning of health convictions and behaviour and the qualitative methodology of social studies.