by Mark Angelides
Both in the US and the UK, the issues of mental health care, treatment and support are areas that almost all of the main political parties are in agreement on: more must be done. But why is it that this apparently growing problem is not being investigated as other health concerns invariably are? Is there a mental health epidemic on the horizon? Are the figures rising year on year? The only time government does not look for an answer is when it already has one; so what is really happening?
Firstly, it is worth looking at the actual numbers (it is not beyond the cheekiness of our governments to make up a crisis in order to further their own agenda). According to Mind.org:
- Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year
- In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week
So it is clearly a problem that effects a lot of people (or perhaps some of the same people on a regular basis, either way, it is shows that there is a lack of “cure”), and as such deserves to be looked at seriously.
According to the NHS (as reported in the Guardian), 12.6% of women aged 16-24 screen positive for PTSD, 19.7% self-harm and 28.2% have a mental health condition. These shocking numbers are attributed to three main causes: sexual violence, childhood trauma and “pressures from Social Media”.
Two of the three main causes have obviously (and unfortunately) been with us a very long time, so the only new attributing factor would be Social Media. This may not be surprising to many people who have observed, or even experienced, what an utter moral swamp and vicious, reactionary place the internet can be.
The UK’s Mental Health Foundation says: “Mental health and behavioral problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and drug use) are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20 to 29-year-olds.” One of the main things that stands out is that drug use is attributed as one of the main causes of behavioral problems; an increase in drug use (and abuse) directly leads to further mental health issues.
So if this is a huge issue that is clearly getting worse, why is the government solution only on treatment?
When there is an obesity issue, programs and taxes are put in place to stop people putting on weight in the first place. School food programs are rolled out and government campaigns warn of the vast dangers that occur due to obesity.
Smoking has faced mass government programs, campaigns and taxation to prevent people starting to smoke. It has faced a huge cultural backlash, too. The amount of laws pertaining to smoking and the advertising of cigarettes is more far reaching than almost any other government fronted campaign in history. And even those who already smoke (in the UK) are given treatment to help them quit as soon as possible.
But why no action from governments on the root causes of mental health issues? There are plenty of programs to help people get support for their problems, but nothing to actually stop people developing mental health problems (like there are for smoking, obesity, and almost every other health problem). Could it be because the two main drivers are Social Media usage and drugs?
The government wants people to live immersed in Social Media, and they want people to use drugs. Both of these effectively ruin young minds and this is the long term goal. If there are casualties along the way, then so be it. They will emote, and cry and empathize, but will not actually do anything to stop it. When the population is unable to think or speak, they will finally have full control.