Mental health problems on the increase in the UK

With Prime Minister Theresa May expected to announce plans to improve mental health care soon, evidence by an NHS Digital study shows that young people are particularly susceptible to mental health issues while one in five women and one in eight men report having a common mental illness.

The study also shows that, at any one time, a sixth of the population in England aged 16 to 64 have a mental health problem. It also shows that 21st Century life is taking its toll on some people, reports the BBC. 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.

Referring to young people in England, the NHS Digital study shows that one in 10 children aged between 5 and 16 have a diagnosable mental condition while 50% of all mental health issues are established by age 14. By age 24, 75% of all mental health problems are established.

Experts agreed the figures were shocking and psychiatrists and mental health campaigners are increasingly raising questions about whether social media increases peer-group pressure and online bullying. The economic uncertainty of the past decade has particularly affected the young, too, making it harder to get on the career ladder.

The government established the first set of waiting time targets for the NHS in England in 2016. They mean the health service should be providing access to talking therapies within 18 weeks and treatment for those experiencing their first episode of psychosis within two weeks for at least half of people.

But 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.

Many people suffer from stress and anxiety, brought upon them by modern life’s demands, says the National Council for Hypnotherapy, the largest professional body for clinical hypnotherapy in the UK with more than 1,800 qualified therapists on its register.

If not treated adequately, adds the NCH, anxiety and stress can lead to further mental issues which can have a severe impact on the lives of those with issues as well as those around them.

Says the NCH: “Anxiety is a fear or concern that is exaggerated, and is out of proportion to the situation, although sometimes it may not feel like this. The symptoms of anxiety correlate with the stress response or ‘fight-or-flight’.

“This is primal response that protects you against threats in your environment, so if danger is present your body triggers a rush of blood to your arms and legs so that you can fight or run away. It is an adrenaline response that causes your heart to beat faster, pumping oxygen around your body to those parts that need it to protect you. You may feel as if you are on high alert as well, unable to calm down or relax, your mind may race unable to focus or quieten down.”

To experience prolonged flight-or-flight creates feelings of anxiety, says the NCH, adding that it is important to reduced stress and anxiety and this can be achieved without resorting to anti-depressant drugs, through clinical hypnotherapy, where therapists can help people who are ready to explore ways of freeing themselves from anxiety and living a fulfilled and happy life.

As NHS Digital pointed out, the number of medicines dispensed for anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

Whether it is family or friends, neighbours or work colleagues, the chances are we all know someone who is affected and putting them in touch with an NCH therapist could be a life-changing opportunity.