Mental health and inequality have been some of the biggest conversations in recent years, so the theme for 2022 is for the world Psychological health Today (October 10) – “Making mental health and well-being for all a global priority” – could not be more appropriate.
And joining these conversations makes sense, as global inequality and mental health are issues that constantly overlap, through society and across the course of our individual lives.
Black people are four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than white people, NHS The numbers appear. one in eight LBGT People have experienced some form of unequal treatment from healthcare staff, notes the charity Stonewall.
The unemployment A recent report from the Office for National Statistics shows that lower income and disability are among a number of inequality-related factors that are linked to an increased chance of mental health problems such as depression.
“Often we are discouraged from seeing the connections between one part of life and another,” Brian says. daw Executive Vice President of the charity Rethink Mental Health. “We are discouraged into thinking that a basic level of financial security is good for our mental health, good for our family life, and good for our physical health as well.
Dow adds, “Life is a series of links, and the more these bonds erode and break, the more difficult it becomes.”
We spoke to Dow about what mental health means in an unequal world now, and what next:
Why is the topic “Mental Health in an Unequal World” so important?
It’s becoming clear – if no one is already aware – that we live in a very unequal world, whether it’s access to vaccines or the conditions people live in that have made them more vulnerable. The pandemic has created and exacerbated these disparities.
In terms of mental health, we know that the impact of the pandemic was not just physical, but that there was a clear impact on mental health, with people experiencing the effects of sadness, isolation and fear.
For a long time, if you had a mental health problem, it was nearly impossible to get good quality treatment quickly and close to home. Over the past six or seven years, there’s been investment and that’s starting to change. But it took a long time to get there, the epidemic appeared and demand increased much more.
We’ve seen a rise in things like people looking for and paying for treatment, which is great in many ways. But do you think there is still a lack of understanding about poverty in the UK, and that paying for services is completely inaccessible to many?
Yes, everything is connected, right? On the one hand, it is really positive, for example, to have access to early intervention for psychosis; It became more available. But there are still very big gaps and people have to rely on things like private treatment – for the average person let’s say that’s between £60 and £100 [on average, a session]This is a very expensive form of health care.
Do we tolerate that as a cancer criterion? If we say that 50 percent of people should receive treatment in a private hospital and pay for it themselves?
Do you think this shows that we still don’t take mental health as seriously as physical health?
It’s interesting when you peel that back, because arguably there has been a change that has really taken place in the last decade. I was walking the dog yesterday and walked behind two people talking loudly about mental health. This hasn’t really happened in about five or six years.
So I think there’s a population-wide understanding that we all have mental health and that mental health is something to watch out for, and that’s a good thing.
But where we haven’t advanced as with those more serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar disorder, personality disorder – there is still a lack of understanding of what that means, and in turn, people don’t always get access to the treatment they want to get.
Do you think addressing inequality is an essential part of preventing mental health problems in the first place?
I do that, because a lot of them are really circular. Sure, some people will end up with a mental health problem, not just because of genetics – we don’t exist as a bundle of DNA in a vacuum – but let’s say someone had a generally fun upbringing, and just had any cause that ends up with a mental health problem, that’s is happening.
But a lot of the time, it happens because people have had very difficult circumstances in childhood, or experienced very serious trauma, or perhaps they have had relationship difficulties or addictions later in life, and they may have ended up in really difficult financial circumstances and [are] homeless. All of these things can be related.
Does rethinking mental illness have goals for how to move forward in a positive way?
definitely. I realize that in the voluntary sector it is very easy to point the finger at the government or anyone else and say, “You should do it.”
I really think that we – you’ve heard of ‘think tanks’, but thinking about solutions and answers – we should be some kind of ‘executive organisation’. We have to see what the problem is but we also have to take action to address and improve it.
On a practical level, I think the answer revolves around what we call “communities that care”.
We’ve all experienced–if you’ve ever had any kind of health issue–that feeling of being a little carried away, you have to jump through hoops. Or maybe you are trying to change your broadband provider; You always jump through hoops.
If you think of the average person with a mental health issue, the kind of confidence and abilities needed to navigate a really complex situation — you might be dealing with debt or interest, or a housing problem — these things can be very complex and oftentimes seem that structures are organized around themselves, unlike citizens and individuals [needing them].
What we’re trying to do is work with all the local players – charities, local health care providers, other organizations that have a footprint in a particular area – and make sure that if someone has a mental health issue, they don’t have to jump through hoops to get to things and arrange them.
How do we organize society so that we put people first? The idea of working with a spirit of generous leadership – that we focus ourselves around the person, rather than the person who has to organize themselves around us – I believe will add to the future of quality healthcare delivery beyond the NHS.