Is there really a rise in mental health problems?

Blue Tree intern Maddy Lykourgos explores the phenomenon of rising mental health problems…

Every now and again in the realm of mental health, it becomes publicised that today’s society suffers more with their mental health than at any other point in history. A common cynical explanation is that people are taking advantage of a society that is more compassionate towards mental health and rely on that as an excuse to get lenient treatment from employers, alleviating some form of responsibility placed upon them.

Yes, unfortunately, these views are still held, but not by everyone. Over the years it has been a constant battle for people working in or using mental health services to acquire the same parity of esteem as physical health. While the war is not yet won, society has come along leaps and bounds. Gone are the days of asylums filled with ‘eccentric’ people that don’t meet the cultural norms, mothers of children born out of wedlock and women deserted by their spouses.

Of course, when the institutions closed back in the early 20th/sup>Century a lot of people were thrown into a society that ostracised them and from which they had previously been kept completely separate. Left with distressing experiences from institutionalisation, society offered no respite either and the mental health population unfortunately still carries much of that stigma today.

However, we now recognise that views differing from those of the governing political party, are not grounds for hospitalisation. Decisions about inpatient care are given a great deal of attention, and holding someone under sections of the Mental Health Act only occurs when absolutely necessary (not least because of the constant bed crisis). Cultural norms have also changed and while the sigma towards mental health may still exist, we are better at talking about it and asking for help. We are now more aware of what we’re looking out for and where to seek help; most importantly, we’re more able to admit our suffering without fear of being labelled ‘weak’ or ‘crazy’.

Nonetheless, we shouldn’t discard the fact that life is hard; getting out of bed every morning to face the same monotony, when every fibre of our being lacks the motivation to do so, is hard. The younger generations, especially, are faced with the almost absolute fact that we may not ever get to have the home and family life that we had growing up. Not only do we have to adjust our own expectations to a life we can realistically afford, but we have to struggle to remind the generations above, who set the standards, that times have indeed changed.

Life has always been full of stressors, though, and that’s no different. Perhaps we should credit ourselves for the strides we’ve taken in how we deal with those stressors. We only have more documented mental health-related cases because more people have chosen to come forward to seek help; surely, that is a positive? Let’s not forget that mental health is a part of every individual. Just as you can be in good or bad physical health, the same applies for mental health too. That recognition is what allows us to accept the rising number of cases as a positive for the future of mental health services.

For any advice on any mental health issues, diagnosed or undiagnosed, please contact us now at The Blue Tree Clinic. We offer a wide variety of services for an extensive range of psychological difficulties.