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Mental Health. Hidden in plain sight.

It is said that 1 in 4 people will suffer from mental health issues. and 1 in 6 people experience common mental health problems (for example, anxiety and depression) in any given week. Mental health in the past seemed to be something that was taboo, and people were unable to speak about it. there was once a time where being mentally ill was met with severe punishments. Renee Fabian talks about this in her article ‘The History of Inhumane Mental Health Treatments’. She talks about how in the mid-1700’s “asylums became notorious warehouses for the mentally ill”. People who were mentally ill were treated as entirely different people as a whole. Jeffrey A. Lieberman in ‘Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry’ agrees with this idea saying that “the purpose of the earliest mental institutions was neither treatment nor cure, but rather the enforced segregation of inmates from society”. There was even the impression that mental issues were the product of being possessed by the devil. This would be a reason as to why people would be reluctant to even talk about their mental health or any issues they are facing. Treatment included things like shock therapy, hydrotherapy, and even lobotomies. Later came Thorazine, the medical breakthrough, that wasn’t perfect, but helped to treat people in more a safe and effective way.

People are a lot more open to talk about health, but some generations may still hold the notion that mental health isn’t something to talk so openly about. Even now, it is said that almost 60% of older adults do not get the help they need when they develop a mental illness. The NHS encourage older people to “ditch the ‘stiff upper lip’ approach to mental ill health”. They worked with Age UK and wanted to bring more awareness on the importance of mental health, as well as, encouraging them to seek help and access the provisions that are in place for them.

As well as the generational gaps, there are also cultural or even religious gaps that could prohibit people form speaking about mental health. Those who are particularly religious and believe in superstitions may confuse mental health with some spiritual possessions. In some religions, it believed that people can be possessed and when they start to act abnormally or anything different from their usual self, some may instantly refer to their religious beliefs and disregards anything other than that. This may be something that also hinders people from referring to mental health provisions. They simply may not believe in them. This isn’t always the case anymore because of the help and knowledge we have now. Because people are more aware of mental health they are more conscious of it and are understanding that there could be many different reasons for certain behaviours.

It is apparent that the newer generations bring a lot more attention to mental health. There is seen to be a rise in mental health issues and people are taking about it a lot more. But that brings the question, is there a rise or is it just getting recognised later then it should have?

There are many types of mental health issues that people are aware of now. At first things were chalked down to depression and anxiety. But knowledge and research show that there is so much more than what people first thought there was. In the beginning people would have just been called those with mental illnesses crazy, and not even associated them with society. It is a valid point that we are more aware of varying health issues because of the advancements we have today but it can be said that those advancements were made because people chose to finally speak about mental health. The fact that the mentality of people is changing now, regarding mental health, shows that it is the attitude and the acceptance of the people that has truly changed in modern society. Of course, not everyone mind can be changed and there are still those who would not even speak about mental health or illness, but in comparison to earlier years we are making advancements and we will optimistically continue to do so.


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