THE BLOG

Why It Is Important to Explore Alternate Avenues of Improving Mental Health

24/11/2015 13:06 GMT | Updated 23/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Over the course of this year, I have found that my eyes have been opened to the growing problem of mental illness in our society, and why it has yet to be addressed by our government.

People recover from mental illness not only from 1-1 counselling, but also from group therapy sessions. Although 1-1 and group therapy sessions are free, the waiting times for such therapy is despicable, with many having to wait for weeks even months to be seen. It is important we therefore look at the different ways of addressing this problem.

We have seen a rise in the emergence of a number of mental health organisations looking to tackle these issues, including the Campaign Against Living Miserably, Rethink Mental Illness and Mind amongst others.

Each has raised conversations about mental health, from why we should change current perceptions of the issue to how we should address it.

Publicity has been central to raising awareness of the issue and bringing the conversation about mental health forward. Social media channels, campaigns and key celebrity figures have highlighted this change in thinking, which continues to be overlooked by the government.

It is a necessary time to start these conversations, as problems with anxiety and depression is on the rise, particularly in the case of men, with male suicide rising by a third in the last decade.

Mental health is a complex, intricate area to approach and it is important we understand the various means of tackling it.

For a long time, counselling has been the answer, yet not all people who suffer from anxiety and depression have benefited from this mode of talking therapy.

Another way of dealing with mental illness has been the use of music therapy, which I explored in one of my earlier blogs. It was astonishing to see the likes of Alika Agidi-Jeffs using music as a way of coping with his anxiety and eventually overcoming it in inspirational fashion.

Indeed music therapists themselves have talked about how music lessened the stigma surrounding the illness and how patients used music as a form of communication, a way of releasing depression and anxiety, without labelling it as an issue that the patient has to somehow overcome by their own means.

Other art forms such as theatre and spoken word have each served to bring forward conversations about mental illness. Cardboard Citizens, for example, brought forth their youth program ACT NOW, to facilitate conversations about mental health in the form of a stage performance, displaying the interaction between young people and their therapists, whilst looking at new ways of how professionals should act on mental illness experienced by young people.

This year we have also witnessed ex-premier league defender and former chairman of the PFA Clarke Carlisle's battle with depression, after an attempt to commit suicide. Clarke cannot simply battle depression and dual-diagnosis alone; he needs the support, as do others suffering from mental illness.

The conversation surrounding mental illness is changing, but the government needs to recognise and bring discussions back towards how we address it, and explore new and creative ways of tackling this issue.

Image credit: Kiran Foster