It’s difficult to deny how far we’ve come as a nation when it comes to mental health. Less than only 100 years ago, patients with mental illnesses were being ‘treated’ with the likes of insulin-induced comas, lobotomies and malarial infections. But is anything really being done?
The government certainly has taken huge steps towards helping those with mental illnesses
The government certainly has taken huge steps towards both helping those with mental illnesses and also towards relieving the stigma. For example, in June 2017, the government pledged that by 2020, every secondary school in the country will be offered Mental Health First Aid training. £200,000 of government funding has been pumped into this programme that will train secondary school teachers in how to identify and respond to early signs of mental health issues in children, this will include practical advice on how to deal with issues such as depression and anxiety, suicide and psychosis, self-harm, and eating disorders. Furthermore, on Time to Talk Day 2017 (a day that takes place on the first Thursday in February which aims to break the nation’s silence around mental health issues), Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged that is was an important day in our national calendar, and that there is much more to be done in terms of removing the stigma that stops so many people from seeking help.
Time To Talk Day...aims to break the nation's silence around mental health issues
Mental health awareness in the UK also has royal backing; The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Price Harry are at the head of the initiative Heads Together, a campaign that aims to tackle the stigma on mental health combined with fundraising for new mental health services. Kate and Wills aren’t the only famous faces to be opening up the conversation surrounding mental health; the likes of Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Ryan Reynolds, Adele and Ellen DeGeneres are paving the way on squashing the stigma with many of them using social media as a platform for raising awareness.
Closer to home, we are still faced with worrying statistics
But closer to home, we are still faced with worrying statistics; according to YouGov, more than a quarter of students report to having a mental health problem of one type of another, with the most common mental health problems among students being depression, anxiety or an eating disorder. Perhaps the most concerning statistic is that 21% of students who have used a university mental health service rated its helpfulness as ‘not helpful at all’.
We've certainly come a long way from brutal and invasive therapies...but it's indisputable that a stigma remains
We’ve certainly come a long way from brutal and invasive therapies, and even people paying to ogle at ‘insane lunatics’ in asylums, but it’s indisputable that there a stigma remains, and that more positive steps need to be taken by governments, influential figures and universities to combat this.