We are all aware of mental health these days, right? There are government campaigns, TV shows, books, tweets and posters about it.
During the pandemic, the government launched Every Mind Matters, a campaign encouraging people to go online and receive free personalized action plans with practical tips to help them manage stress and anxiety.
Jobs sent health emails, there’s mental health awareness week, Prince Harry’s mental health TV series “I Can’t See You,” and ITV recently asked former Love Island stars Cam Chetney and Amber Rose Gill to call for a mental health series. Called “Complete Healing”.
Pop star Frankie Bridge recently published Grow: Motherhood, Mental Health & Me, a book about his depression. And Sunday is World Mental Health Day, which marks the launch of various campaigns and charity announcements. Awareness is good. It can make people feel less alone in their suffering, it can help people open up, it can reduce the loneliness and shame of certain mental health problems. It can save lives.
“I think increasing mental health awareness is a good thing,” says Alastair Santhaus, a psychiatric advisor and author of Chapter One: A Psychiatrist’s Mind and Body Story.
“This is really helpful for some people, especially because it tends to reduce stigma, which for many is probably one of the main reasons why they didn’t show up before.”
However, with all this mental health awareness, the UK is grappling with a mental health crisis. By mid-2020, one in five people in the UK will be depressed, twice as many as in 2019, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.
The number of children and youth requiring emergency care due to a mental crisis has increased by 20% to 18,269 in the pandemic – mental health services receive only 13% of the cost.
This lack of funding means long waiting lists and fragmented, over-the-top services, with charities often filling in gaps when mental health crisis teams are unavailable.
In 2020, the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that people with severe mental illness, including bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder, wait up to two years for treatment, while 38% of patients end up in emergency or crisis services. during the wait.
Its latest results, released today, show that at least 1.5 million people in the UK are waiting for treatment, but a tenth of counseling psychiatrists are empty.
Official data also show that the number of NHS mental health beds has decreased by 25% since 2010, with nearly 6,000 fewer beds for people with illnesses such as schizophrenia or eating and personality disorders.
How useful is education really? “While awareness-raising is good,” says Santhaus, “in my experience, many people with mental health problems know they have a mental health problem; the problem is that they don’t have easy access to help.
“When you’ve reduced the stigma and someone doesn’t really care what people think, ask, ‘Can you really help me?’ What is the service for me?” If you can’t provide this service, raising awareness can lead to frustration.
“The problem with awareness is that it doesn’t usually come with funding or anything like that. That’s what we really need to look at in healthcare.”
Experienced Samaritan volunteer Kalpana Mehta recalls Rehan*, a 12-year-old boy who had to be kicked out of his favorite class because his mother made an appointment with him in child and adolescent psychiatry.
“Her doctor diagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder and referred her to cognitive behavioral therapy,” he said. “The child, along with other children, was examined by psychologists, psychiatrists and nurses.
Others have various anxiety disorders. A series of group therapy sessions were followed, both with and without their legal guardian.
The specialists assessed the group’s needs and decided they could only afford two members for another face-to-face therapy. The other four just had to learn to live with their poor mental health. How would public debate and mental health awareness raising alone help Rehan and his group? maintenance.
“It’s certainly commendable to speak openly and honestly about mental health issues, but it’s hard to believe that advanced modern society is incapable of allocating resources to support the weak, that various charities should provide temporary relief from complex conditions. ”
Comedian Ruby Wax has spoken openly about her depression and she has founded Frazzled Café, a charity that hosts a series of weekly get-togethers in the UK where people can share, talk and listen.
“I love the fact that people feel free enough to say what’s on their mind,” says Ms. Wax.
“That means the heat is gone from shyness. I’ve always said that talking is half the battle. It’s a sign of strength and health.”
It’s all about talking and how it helps mental well-being. However, he is also shocked by the government’s culpability when it comes to actual mental illness.
“The difference between what the government says and does is huge for me.”
He said that despite all his mental health campaigns, it frustrates people mentally. By 2020 the government pledged $500 million
However, many people who work in mental health refer to funding as a “drop in the ocean” because the problem is so big.