How can we better help sufferers of mental illness?by Prospect Team / August 15, 2014 / Leave a comment
This is the first of a new series, in which Prospector will be asking a range of experts, as well as our readers, to come up with answers to the questions defining the political agenda.
This week, mental health, and our society’s often insufficient response to it, has been at the centre of the public debate. On Monday, the actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead, having committed suicide after struggling with his mental health for many years. On Thursday, Professor Simon Wessely, the incoming President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, warned in a Guardian interview that two-thirds of Britons with depression aren’t getting the treatment they need.
Make the public more aware
Public awareness is key. Children should be taught in schools that mental illnesses are just that—illnesses. Millions of them are living with them anyway, through parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. There should be far more advertising about the reality of mental illness, encouraging people to understand what these illnesses are, and to seek help. And then the help must be there. Services are being steadily cut and eroded when they are needed more than ever. Greater public awareness will drive greater political demand to deliver those services. Alastair Campbell, MIND Ambassador and former director of communications to Tony Blair
Combat sexual violence
To prevent the vast majority of the mental health problems in women, in particular, we need to combat sexual violence and abuse. If you scratch beneath the surface with almost any woman, they’ve at least been flashed at or touched inappropriately. Anything from their uncle rubbing his stubbly beard a bit too hard when he tells them they’re pretty when they’re seven years old, through to child sexual abuse and rape. It’s just routine, and it all wears away at self-esteem, self confidence, self-worth. If they’re not believed, and blamed, and not supported, then it’s no surprise when these women develop quite chronic forms of mental illness later on. Julie Bindel, feminist writer
Teach healthy thinking
From an early age we are taught to identify physical health problems. Healthy food, doctors, and…