2021 - We Desperately Need a Revolution in the Way We approach Mental Health

Written by Mark Newey of headucate, whose mission is “To change the conversation on mental health and transform the nation’s mental wellness through Therapeutic Self Discovery.”

Why on earth do we wait until somebody is really ill before we do anything about mental health. Literally all mental health initiatives are reactive, not proactive. Why?

It is perfectly possible to proactively teach people how to remain mentally well. After all, stress, anxiety and depression are not actually mental illnesses: at least not to start with. They are signals from our system telling us that our life’s not working and that we need to change something. But we don’t listen; we try to ignore the signals because we perceive them as illness and weakness. We bottle things up until they spiral out of control and only then is help available.

On a national level, things were already bad before the pandemic and the lockdowns: according to Mind (mind.org.uk) 1 in 6 of us were struggling with stress, anxiety or depression in any one week. However, according to Public Health England (PHE January 2021), 46% of people experienced anxiety during the pandemic, with 44% for stress and 46% for low mood. 

But the real problem is that the mental health system was already completely inadequate in its ability to provide the necessary care: 

  • 1 in 5 people wait over a year for mental health treatment; 1 in 10 wait 2 years (We Need To Talk Coalition)
  • Drop-out rates from NHS-funded talking therapies are as high as 90% in some areas of the country (Mental Health Matters RSA)
  • Only 41.8% of NHS patients complete their therapy programmes (Key Facts and Trends in Mental health 2016 Update: Mental Health Network NHS Confederation)
  • Mental Health problems represent the largest category of NHS “disease” expenditure in the UK (Nuffieldtrust (2015). NHS spending on the top three disease categories in England.)
  • However, 75% of people with mental health problems receive no treatment at all (Naylor, C., Parsonage, M., McDaid, D., Knapp, M., Fossey, M. and Galea, A. (2012). Long-term conditions and mental health: The cost of co-morbidities. London: The King’s Fund.)
  • In 2017, two-thirds of children referred for specialist mental healthcare were not receiving treatment. (Spurgeons children’s charity)

    And the political reality is that mental health only receives 13% of the total NHS budget (The Centre for Economic Performance – Mental Health Policy Group, (2012). How mental illness loses out in the NHS. London School of Economics) even though 75% of GP’s visits are stress-related. (Boone J.L et al. Journal Am Osteo Assoc 2003).

    We have to take a proactive approach to mental health right now, as we start coming out of lockdown. The reactive approach not only waits until somebody is ill, but is financially unsustainable.

    How do we develop a proactive approach? Most of us are living life on the surface, where it’s so easy to get caught up in a toxic loop of shameful thinking and descending into stress, anxiety and depression. We need to be grounded in who we are, comfortable with who we are, knowing what we want out of life.

    The key to mental health is the relationship we have with ourselves and most of us don’t have one: we’re living on a treadmill hidden behind a mask, trying to live the life we think we ought to be and trying to be the person we think we should be.

    When you’re Headucated, you have a deep sense of self, you’re comfortable with who you are “warts and all”, you find it easy to go into the world and be that person and you know deep down what you want out of life and how to get it. That is the recipe for mental wellness, not waiting until we’re ill and going on medication seeing a therapist. Self-discovery on a national scale would transform the country’s mental health.

    More about Mark:

    Training and Experience

    After 18 extremely stressful years of working for huge corporations in international marketing, Mark had a breakdown in 1999. Rather than going on medication, Mark fought through his breakdown, creating a huge curiosity in the mind.

    This led to him training in the neurosciences and a complete career change, as a Mental Wellness Coach and Teacher,  becoming his life’s work and calling. Over the last 20 years he has helped thousands of people, from school children through to top corporate directors, to beat Stress, Anxiety and Depression.

    He is now bringing his unique knowledge and understanding of mental health issues to a much wider audience through speaking engagements, seminars and workshops for companies and individuals and an online mental wellness platform.

    The current reactive approach to mental health is broken and disempowering. We must change our approach and employers will be key to heading off what could be a national disaster.

    Mark’s contact details are: mark@headucate.me  or via www.headucate.me