Mental Health has been a prevalent topic in recent years. Society has no doubt adopted a more enlightened approach to mental health; however mental health problems remain somewhat of a taboo subject, with a certain stigma attached to mental health issues to this day. It is therefore crucial that we continue to give those with mental health issues the support they require by creating awareness.

The prevalence of Mental Health issues

Mind (the mental health charity) recently published statistics highlighting the prevalence of Mental Health issues in the UK:

  • Approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year in the UK.
  • In England, approximately 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety or depression) in any given week.

A recent report published by the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network outlined that:

  • Women were more likely than men to report ever having been diagnosed with a mental health problem (33 per cent compared with 19 per cent).
  • The number of people acknowledging that they know someone close to them who has had a mental illness increased from 58 per cent in 2009 to 65 per cent in 2014. Forty per cent of people surveyed said they would be comfortable talking to their employer about a mental health problems, although nearly half (48 per cent) said they would feel uncomfortable.

The impact of gender on the perception of Mental Health issues

Although suicide is not one of the main causes of death in men overall, it is the single most common cause of death in men under 45. In 2014 there were 6,122 suicides in the UK. Of the total number of suicides, 76% were males and 24% were females.

These statistics can be explained in a variety of ways, one of which is the societal norm we have created requiring that men exude strength and masculinity by masking their emotions.

  • Masculinity - more than women, men respond to stress by taking risks, like misusing alcohol and drugs.
  • Emotional illiteracy - men are much less likely than women to have a positive view of counselling or therapy, and when they do use these services, it is at the point of crisis.

These statistics emphasise the importance that we must combat the stigma surrounding mental health by increasing awareness, providing information to improve understanding and highlighting available support.

The future of Mental Health

By 2030, it is estimated that there will be approximately two million more adults in the UK with mental health problems than there were in 2013. This will be attributable to the increased research on the topic; the recognition of a wider range of mental health problems; and hopefully a removal of the stigma surrounding mental health, leading to an increase in the number of people seeking help.

3 Ways to improve/ maintain your Mental Health:

  • Connect - Connect with your friends, colleagues and neighbours.
  • Be active - Find an activity you enjoy, whether it be walking, cycling or going to the gym
  • Keep learning - Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence.

If you are struggling with a mental health issue (no matter how severe), it is important to reach out and speak to someone; whether that be a friend, a member of family, a colleague or one of the many services. Support is always available.