1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Has an over emphasis on mental health actually damaged it further?

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by iamdjdz, Feb 27, 2019.

  1. iamdjdz


    Joined: Nov 24, 2006

    Posts: 4,171

    Location: Liverpool

    I was watching a show yesterday about cleaning the houses of hoarders and people who struggle with mental health issues that are compounded by them having houses that sometime are literally covered in faeces etc. One of the stats that the narrator said was that 1 in 4 people have mental health issues. Now I'm sceptical of this to a degree as nearly everyone suffers from some form of stress or anxiety but maybe not to a health affecting level.

    My question is, has the recent amount of mental health publicity actually further damaged the mental health of those who have issues already, or caused people who would have otherwise worked through their issues to accept and thus not deal with them?

    I appreciate that a lot of people get genuine depression, anxiety and other problems and I'm not recommending a man up attitude to the problem either. I just think that some people would be set up better to cope if they didn't have it thrust in their faces that it's ok?

    I appreciate this is a sensitive subject, hence speakers corner rather than GD and I'm looking to see if anyone shares similar opinions or has arguments against my (rather undecided) stance.
  2. krooton


    Joined: May 9, 2004

    Posts: 24,987

    Location: Leafy outskirts of London

    I don't think anyone uses mental health issues (those who have them) as an excuse to not do anything about them.

    It's more those with issues that aren't aware or are in denial that can cause massive problems for themselves.
  3. Jono8


    Joined: May 20, 2007

    Posts: 28,281

    Location: Surrey

    I know what you mean and i agree with you to a certain extent.

    As you say, we all go through difficult times, anxiety, feeling low etc. I think for some people, rather than just accept that life can be tough and summon up the courage to tackle/cope with difficulties, it is all too easy to try and find some sort of deficiency or mental illness that can be ascribed to it.

    But that can be applied to a lot of things and it sort of comes down to the way humans tend to try and blame anything or anyone but themselves for their shortcomings.

    But, as krooton above has pointed out, it can go the other way.

    It certainly is a difficult subject.
  4. billysielu


    Joined: Aug 9, 2009

    Posts: 11,340

    Location: Oxfordshire

    It has got people thinking that mental health can just be fixed. Who you are doesn't change just because you "seek help".

    It's like how people take drugs for physical health when they should diet and excercise instead.

    Stinks of a big set up to get UK kids on personality medication like in the US.
  5. ttaskmaster


    Joined: Sep 11, 2013

    Posts: 8,543

    Location: Reading, UK

    I think the massively increased publicity has led to a sort of #MeToo movement, with many people claiming and blaming mental health issues instead of just taking responsibility for themselves and their lives. In most cases any semblance of an actual mental health issue is minimal at best, and rarely is it ever a clinically qualified disorder.

    In my experience, it began with dyslexia, moved on to ADHD/ADD, then you had OCD, followed by Aspergers, all undercut with general depression of one kind or another.
    Having a fairly wide experience of people with both mental and or physical issues (including all the above) that are genuinely bad enough to be considered actual disorders, not one of them has ever blamed their disability or used it as an excuse. A few have used it as merely an explanation for weird behaviour or reluctance to engage in certain activities, but they always try to find ways to cope with it or get around it.

    Generally, the more someone brings up their particular issue(s), the less likely they are to actually have one.
  6. arknor


    Joined: Nov 22, 2005

    Posts: 35,597

    Location: Newcastle/Zurich

    mental health awareness is not always a good thing.

    I would never tell anyone I have autism in the real world because "well everyone is a little bit autistic"
    That to me is like someone telling me they have terminal cancer and me saying "well everyone is dying"

    also as ttaskmaster says almos everyone has adhd or aspergers these days so it's seen as something minor even though for a lot of people it has a big negative impact on their lives

    seems like young children can get diagnosed almost to easily with a variety of mental health disorders
  7. Arthur Hucksake


    Joined: Dec 14, 2010

    Posts: 2,963

    Location: Nottingham

    Not sure I can agree. The more awareness the better. The more empathy shown towards people suffering with mental health problems, the more likely people are to speak out and seek help.

    I suffer from a serious mental health condition which effects every day of my life, and i'm not talking depression or anxiety. Something worse.

    Embarrassing as it might be, at least people attempt to understand it.
  8. Secret_Window


    Joined: Aug 10, 2006

    Posts: 4,844

    The raised awareness does also have a negative affect, in fact I'm surprised it's not talked about more really.

    An example would be someone who may suffer from anxiety and depression who has a genuine physical ailment they need treating. Doctor says it is just health anxiety and not to worry and sends them away. Person who went to doctor for treatment finds out later they have late stage Cancer and only months left to live that could have been avoided had it been looked at properly.

    Another example, person is diagnosed with depression from the symptoms of feeling fatigued and lethargic. The person then is treated with having depression and has both therapy and antidepressants, but they are not better. The person then challeges doctor on the diagnosis, and asks for investigations for fatigue and discovers they have a hormonal problem that required hormone treatment and not antidepressants or therapy.

    So yes, I do think the over exposure of mental illness can both stereotype people who have it and cause incorrect diagnosis in those with other health problems.
  9. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,298

    I think these highlight more general issues with promoting science. From smoking to reducing alcohol consumption, the message can and has in the case of booze and students in one in the U.S. lead to more consumption.

    Language is also an issue. Iandjdz is skeptical of a report commissioned by the office of national statistics. It seems to be more of an issue with medical classification and language being different from common usage.
    Its an issue that's very common in medical/ science reporting and in this case has clearly lead to some confusion.

    Lots that we don't understand about stress, getting the stats and modelling right is essential and any professional is going to take extreme care as the data is used by a wide range of researchers.
  10. Secret_Window


    Joined: Aug 10, 2006

    Posts: 4,844

    I also think far too many doctors are quick to diagnose mental illness in the place of investigating health problems properly. Not everyone is the same, and each person should be treated individually. But what I have seen is that there is a type of stereotyping for those who suffer from mental illness, and an over-diagnosis in people who have some other health issue wrong with them.

    I certainly think, with the pressure doctors have been experiencing under the NHS, that this has become a much more widespread problem. It is so much easier to send a person away in some instances with antidepressants with the label of being 'depressed' or 'anxious' than it is to help investigate what health problem they are experiencing.

    There's no denying that when mental illness is correctly diagnosed and treated, that people really do benefit from that, but there does seem to be a balance issue, and I think with the pressures some doctors are under, that it has also become a crutch to offload extra work in some cases.
  11. Terminal_Boy


    Joined: Apr 13, 2013

    Posts: 6,770

    Location: La France

    If you kid isn’t on a spectrum for some disorder at school, they’ll be in a minority.
  12. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,298

    N.H.S certainly has issues here, stress is common with any condition. One of my kids just had this issue with a minor and treatable illness, diagnosis can be rather time consuming/ stress does seem to be a go to assumption.

    Stereotyping and negative perspectives, highly common.

    The other more prevalent science/ media issues do seem to have caused some confusion in relation to how the thread started.
    The issues are well flagged, any journalist specializing in health or science should be more than aware of the issues. Standards here are very low.
  13. RedvGreen


    Joined: Dec 2, 2009

    Posts: 3,756

    Location: Midlands

    Awareness has improved and so has diagnosis and acceptance within general society. We still have people (I work with some) who view any male who exhibits any form of stress/depression/grief as a '*********' and gets told to 'man up', so it is clear to see there are still generational and cultural barriers that are in existence before the true picture is fully exposed.
  14. Raumarik


    Joined: Jul 14, 2003

    Posts: 13,672

    • We no longer allow children to take risks, how many walk to school ? (I'm a father who is guilty of this)
    • It is not longer considered acceptable for people to be miserable - shove them on anti-depressants or get them in therapy. Perhaps, just maybe the human mind needs time to work itself out? (I say this as someone who's been on anti-depressants and came off them against doctors orders a few years ago)
    • We want to have it all without compromise, children, career, fulfilling personal life, personal time to ourselves etc. Are we aiming for the unattainable balance?
    • Social media allows us to spew forth all sorts of nonsense about ourselves which would previously have been personal, instead it's now online forever in chronological order - no wonder social media users are more paranoid.
    • Is there a self-interest by professionals and pharmaceutical companies to push for more mental health treatments.. everything seems to need a label now so a pill can be attached.
    I do think we mollycoddle kids too much these days, irony is that they are probably safer now than they have ever been in terms of going out due to mobile phones etc. I'm sure many of us use to go out for hours on end without our parents having the faintest idea where we were. That's a sense of personal responsibility at a young age right there..
  15. jsmoke


    Joined: Jun 17, 2012

    Posts: 7,267

    ''Mental health' is a smokescreen. People become mentally ill, depression etc either because they've been treated badly, they've treated others badly of they've inherited these problems.

    It's a power struggle and medication probably just zonks your mind so that the parts of it that deal with certain emotions/signals just don't function anymore.

    I agree though it's a downward spiral in regards that the more it's projected onto you the more stigma and guilt your burdened with which is the root of mental illness in the first place, but what else can be done.
  16. FortuitousFluke


    Joined: Jul 7, 2011

    Posts: 3,510

    Location: Cambridgeshire

    Autism isn't a mental health condition.

    In my opinion mental health awareness is, broadly speaking a good thing. On the one hand it has made being open about mental health more acceptable, making it easier for people to seek help, and has also led to employers and organisations being more mindful of their employees and customers mental health, whether that's about prevention, support, or identification.

    A rise in awareness and understanding of causes also helps people to manage their own conditions, now somebody with a sever mental health condition may never get better, for them it's just about managing, but for people who are on the cusp of developing an issue either through stress or hardship or whatever can identify the warning signs and seek help before it becomes a problem. 20 years ago you'd probably have much more trouble if you went to you boss and had a frank discussion about your workloads and stress levels, now it's much more likely that there's a wellness policy in place to support you and you boss in making some changes.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
  17. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,298

    'Mental health' is not a 'smokescreen' its an abstraction or classification, its not a real thing but as its used by students of science its a formula which hopefully to some degree tracks 'reality'. A guide or formalized language to track something concrete.

    It is useful at its most basic level it suggests that some things are mental health issues others are not.

    Break it down further into other ideas or abstractions related to cause, 'environmental', 'psychological' and 'biological.'

    You mention 'environmental' factors in you're introduction, biological/ brain chemistry in you're second sentence and psychological factors in you're closing one.

    You have all the ideas so the abstract terms are not necessary, but they are still useful, your first sentence has both environmental and psychological aspects. Further complexity rather than a neat clear cut classification i.e 'all the beans in the bag are white.'

    Yore second sentence, 'emotions/ signals,' is a mix of biological markers and psychological and emotional factors. Terms help with identifying the complexity and the lack of a single cause and with the biology a further issue can be identified: the biology is still not well understood.

    Breaking down the subject into a series of abstract ideas is helpful. It does not mean the words in themselves, perfectly track real things but the aid in understanding.

    They aid those attempting to study the nature of these things and help in formalizing and identifying issues

    i.e Mental Health unlike other health issues does not a have clear biological markers, some complexity is involved.

    p.s not sure what you are referring to as a 'power struggle' but beyond the scientific classification, political, social and cultural factors are also at play.

    The world and its complexity is a struggle. Its no wonder we all get stressed and depressed at times in the struggle to deal with it.

    Science like wider cultural understanding shares some basic fault lines.

    It easy to mistake words for the things in themselves. Language can be a clunky tool and we can make errors in with it. This is a particular problem for sciences that are more recent and not so well developed like psychology.

    I don't think anyone would accept that the answer to these general fault lines is less discussion. What is even more of an issue in contemporary culture is the way basic data is now so open to question.

    Count the beans in the bag one in four of them are white. If the basics are now so open to question due to a lack of faith in bean counters how does opinion and belief aid and move us further along the road in identifying whats inside a bag of beans?
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019