You may have noticed that it was ‘Blue Monday’ earlier this week and, well, you may have wished you hadn’t. It’s based on a spurious equation conjured by a PR agency for a travel company a while ago and has hung around ever since, serving only to trivialise mental health issues and satisfy an easy headline for certain newspapers. Mental health encompasses a variety of complicated emotional and psychological elements, and deserves a lot more intellectual engagement than this.
However, this does seem out of step with modern perceptions of mental health which are, thankfully becoming increasingly sophisticated. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, for example, has continued to speak out in favour of treating mental health as one would a physical condition, recently criticising the ‘unspoken bias which has always put physical health first.’ Clegg has substantiated his rhetoric with a flurry of policies, most notably the Mental Health Taskforce which draws on ministerial experience in health, security, education, work and others to help fulfil his pledges of:
- Joined up sort across all relevant departments
- 2 week treatment from referral for psychosis patients
- Guaranteed maximum waiting time of 16 weeks for people who are anxious or depressed
Not to be outdone, Labour Leader Ed Miliband has joined in with his own report on mental health whilst committing his potential next government to improving mental health provision with more emphasis on ‘prevention, early intervention and better support.’ Miliband has committed to early intervention as a priority in an attempt to stem the surging numbers of young people with mental health conditions. He said, ‘It cannot be right that when three quarters of adult mental illness begins in children, children’s mental health services get just six per cent of the mental health budget’.
We will in fact be making our own announcement next week, relating to new ways in which certain communities can help those around them with mental health issues. But in the meantime, it is nice to see defined, if not apolitical, policies and reasoned discussion starting to rise above the fluff!
Andrew Parnham, Wellbeing Advisor, Trainer & Coach at Livability