What Illness effects 1 in 6?

There was a thought provoking article on www.bbc.co.uk and we thought we would share it with you. They report that at any one time, a sixth of the population in England aged 16 to 64 have a mental health problem, according to statistics body NHS Digital. Whether it is family or friends, neighbours or work colleagues, the chances are we all know someone who is affected.

With Prime Minister Theresa May expected to announce plans to improve care next week, it is worth exploring the extent of the challenge.

Problems are on the increase
It seems to be getting more common – or at least among those with severe symptoms. While the proportion of people affected does not appear to have risen in the past few years, if you go back a little further there has certainly been a steady increase. Evidence from the NHS Digital study in England shows the rise has been driven by an increase in women with illness.

Why is this? Undoubtedly some of it is down to people being more willing to report and admit mental health problems. Experts point to the way self-harm in particular is recognised in a way it was not 20 or 30 years ago. But it is also clear 21st Century life is taking its toll on some people. Economic uncertainty, social media, the influence of the media and rising expectations of what life should be like have all been suggested as possible causes.

Women are now more likely to be affected
Women are now much more likely to have a common mental illness. One in five report they have, compared with one in eight men in England. If you include only those with severe symptoms, the difference is less acute, but still apparent.

Young people are particularly susceptible.
A number of theories have been put forward for this. The economic uncertainty of the past decade has particularly affected the young, making it harder to get on the career ladder. Also psychiatrists and mental health campaigners are increasingly raising questions about whether social media increases peer-group pressure and online bullying.

Men are more likely to take their own lives
Mental health problems prompt thousands of people to take their own lives. In fact there are about 6,000 suicides in the UK each year and it’s the biggest killer of men up to the age of 49. Men account for three-quarters of the total figure.

Mental health problems tend to start early
As already mentioned, mental health problems are particularly common in the young in the UK. In fact, most mental health problems develop in childhood or when a person is a young adult. Three-quarters of problems are established by the age of 24.

A nation of pill-poppers?
Drugs are still the most common form of treatment. The number of medicines dispensed for anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

It’s Time to Change
But perhaps the most promising development in terms of mental health is the changing attitude towards mental illness. A public campaign called Time to Change was launched in 2009 by leading charities Mind and Rethink.
It has been supported by the lottery and government along the way – and seems to be working.
Latest results from the National Attitudes to Mental Illness Survey, released in May, showed people’s willingness to work, live with and live nearby someone with a mental health problem has been improving in England.

Campaigners have described the progress as wonderful but warn against complacency. Despite the improvements, nearly nine in 10 people who have had mental health problems report they have suffered stigma and discrimination.
For all the positives, there’s a long way to go, it seems.

Article taken in part from www.bbc.co.uk

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