News ID: 202112
Published: 0650 GMT October 10, 2017

UK is in the midst of a mental health awakening

UK is in the midst of a mental health awakening

This year's World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10) came at a time of great change in the world of mental health — with more people coming forward and openly discussing the once-shunned illnesses that affect so many of us.

Millions of us are impacted by mental illness each year, with new official data revealing that one in three work sickness notes handed out by GPs are now for mental health, wrote.

And as more of us are impacted by mental health, awareness around its issues has also risen recently. This has been assisted by high-profile interventions, such as those made by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince Harry has also been very public about his support for mental health issues, previously speaking to The Telegraph's Bryony Gordon about seeking counselling to help process his mother's death.

One in four people are affected by a mental illness, according to the NHS, with the number of prescriptions being dispensed in England having doubled in the past decade.

In 2006 slightly more that 31 million anti-depressant prescriptions were dispensed, compared to 64.7 million in 2016 — the fourth highest number for any type of drug.

While this increase will not solely be driven by an increase in the number of people coming forward, these figures suggest that more people are seeking help for mental illnesses.

Almost eight in every 100 people in England are suffering from mixed anxiety and depression. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that impacts 4.4 in every 100, while 2.4 in every 100 have to battle phobias.

While the number of suicides as reported by the ONS has decreased in recent years, a high — and increasing — proportion of people say they have experienced suicidal thoughts.

It's part of a general awakening in society, whereby people are more likely to come forward and openly discuss mental health.

The 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) revealed that the rate of people saying they've had suicidal thoughts in the past year increased from 3.8 percent in 2000 to 5.4 percent in 2014 — with this national increase driven in particular by a near-tripling of suicidal thoughts for men aged 55–64.

Over the course of their entire lives, one in five British adults had thought of suicide, with this number increasing to 22.4 percent among women.

Troublingly, this figure suggests under-reporting among men due to the fact that they are more than three times as likely as to kill themselves as women in reality.

Young people aged 16–24 were more likely to report suicidal thoughts than any other age group, with women in this age group reporting the highest levels of suicidal thoughts than any other group.

The scale of these figures suggests that, to most people, mental health is an issue close to home — with those not suffering from a mental illness themselves very likely to know somebody who does.

At the start of the year, YouGov polled 5,515 UK adults online on their experiences and opinions of mental health issues.

Two thirds of those who responded said that they knew of at least one person who suffered from a mental illness, while 16 percent said they knew more than five people who did.

Just 14 percent of the population said they didn't know anybody with a mental illness.

When asked whether they agreed that mental health issues were as serious as physical health issues, just five percent of respondents said that mental health issues were less important.

It seems that, individually at least, Britons are fully aware of the scale of the mental health issues facing the UK and are prepared to take it extremely seriously.

While the people of the UK seem to be fully abreast of the affects of mental health, some employers appear to be behind the times.

Business in the Community, a charity, recently published the results of a survey on mental health in the workplace.

The report found that, while 60 percent of employees experienced symptoms of poor mental health related to work, fewer than one in four managers had actually received any training on dealing with these issues.

The really concerning findings came when ascertaining what had happened to people after they had reported their mental health issue to their manager or HR department.

While 72 percent reported that there had been a positive or neutral reaction to their disclosure, some 15 percent said that they'd faced disciplinary proceedings as a result. One in 10 people even said they'd been sacked or forced out of their jobs.

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