We have an amazing facility here in Irvine, California called Amare Global who help their patients with mental health issues through a holistic approach which places a lot of emphasis on community spirit. I was speaking with one of the nurses there recently about the sea-change which we have witnessed in the last 20 years in relation to mental health, and discussing the reasons why. Many years ago this was a taboo subject and people who struggled with issues like depression were told to ‘cheer up’ or just ‘get on with it’. Thankfully now mental health is treated on a labeled playing field as physical health and it is a brilliant and positive advancement which we have seen around the world. Here are the main factors which have helped change the approach to mental health issues.
Unfortunately we often need something bad to happen before we see things change and this has certainly been the case in the world of mental health. Suicide rates amongst certain demographics peaked a couple of years ago and this really brought the point home that mental health was something which we had to deal with. In many cases people couldn’t understand why a certain person would take their own life as they never showed symptoms of their issues. Sadly this is what happens when people cannot talk about mental health issues, so things had to change.
In the last decade we have seen a huge number of celebrities and public figures talking about their own issues with metal health and this has encouraged a great many people to follow suit. When you find out that one of your heroes or someone who you greatly respect has been suffering with something that you have also had issues with, it empowers you to speak out about it too. Even the likes of the UK’s Prince William has been speaking about the urgency to change the way we talk about mental health, which ahas helped to put pressure on employers and encourage people to speak out about their own issues.
In many countries around the world new laws have been passed which mean that employers must treat mental health issues in the same way that they approach physical health issues. This has helped more people to talk to their employers about what they are going through and it has also given them the opportunity to take some time off and seek professional help.
The biggest issue around mental health is that it isn’t something we can see, it isn’t like a broken leg or a broken arm which is visible, and very often symptoms cannot be seen. We have thankfully broken that traditional attitude towards mental health and we have given sufferers an outlet and a safe place to talk about it with their friends, their families and with professionals. We still have a long way to go but things are looking very promising for many who suffer.