Lately, issues surrounding mental health have taken centre stage in our society. The efforts of NGOs, healthcare services, and government bodies have made a significant impact by sensitising people’s perception of this topic. Yet, despite this increased coverage and seemingly positive steps towards dispelling stigma and taking preventative action, poor mental health and suicide has become an ever-mounting crisis. Universities and higher education colleges in particular have faced pressure to make drastic changes after figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a doubling in the number of student suicides – 52 in 2000/1 to 95 in 2016/17. In total, approximately 1,330 higher education students took their lives within this period, of which 686 (66%) were male and 452 (34%) were female. Across the UK, many universities are struggling to provide adequate mental health support, with demand for services increasing 50% over the last 5 years as more and more students are presenting symptoms of high levels of stress and anxiety. To tackle this silent epidemic, more focus needs to be placed on preventative measures such as early intervention and the promotion of healthy thoughts and behaviours.
In recent years, severe mental disorders have proved remarkably resistant to attempts to find effective medicines. The therapeutic revolution of the 1950s offered treatments for both psychosis and depression and it was expected that these pioneering drugs would be followed by a succession of innovative products. Although there have been a number of improvements, no step change in medicinal science has transformed the management of mental illness in the last half century. Continue reading “Argue with an Academic: Professor Edgar Jones on the Stigma Around Mental Health”