Mental Illness will cost the world $16 Trillion by 2030. (1)
According to The Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development (2018), an estimated 12 billion working days are lost every year to mental illness. I’m no economist. However, those costs are eye-watering. How do you even begin to contemplate the scale of a health response? What do you notice about the year this report was commissioned? It was pre the global pandemic Covid-19. We are just discovering the compound effects this virus has on mental health.
According to the National Office of Statistics (2), in the U.K. mental health issues have increased in every age group during Covid-19. Not to be an alarmist, but how will this mental health pandemic be managed moving forward?
The World Health Organisation (3) defines mental health:
A state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities can cope with the normal stresses of life can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
How do you manage your wellbeing?
Across the World, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. For those unfamiliar with the context of these seven days. It contains a series of events, activities, challenges, and helpful tips to focus minds on the impact of Mental Health Issues. The outcome requires positioning to amplify the message, client testimonials, hashtags to build a community, and marketing and communication delivered with the precision of William Tell.
On Sunday 16 May, I’m due to begin another challenge to raise awareness of mental health issues and suicide. Walk a million steps on behalf of the organisation All Lives Are Precious (ALPS). I will be posting video updates of my journey over the next number of months.
What happens when the fanfare of this week ends? Mental health issues are a daily struggle for many. How would you feel if putting on your shoes and going downstairs was considered a win? I can’t even process that situation. Some live this daily. Mental health disorders/conditions can manifest in various forms affecting your behavior, mood, willingness for action, and lifestyle choices.
We all suffer from Mental Health concerns at certain times. These usually coincide with changes, upheaval, or stress brought on by events that impact our daily thoughts. Where this starts to become an everyday occurrence grabbing hold of your ability to function the real problems arise.
The five most common mental health disorders are:
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD).
To narrow down on this Global Health Pandemic I’m going to focus on Depression and Anxiety.
The Mental Health Foundation (4) defines depression: A common mental health problem that causes people to experience low mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration”.
In the U.K. rates of depression doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic-1:8 people (5), experiencing depression (Daily Mail). Given the size of the population that is a shocking statistic to digest. Outside of mainstream provision provided via health trusts, hospitals, general practice doctors, and wider wrap-around services, the non-profit sector is shouldering a lot of responsibility as we move into further easing restrictions from Covid-19.
Depression if not managed correctly can lead to loss of life. The suicide rates are already at levels of real concern. There is a range of services in the space. However, they are pushing water uphill at present. Global estimations (6), of those suffering from depression are 350 million. (KPMG). The economic costs of depression in the U.K. (7), are £8.6 billion per annum. (The Independent, 2014).
Those suffering from depression are placed on a course of medication (Bonus for big Pharma) or some type of talking treatment (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Talking mobile apps are now starting to gain a foothold for those unable to visit the doctor or who want to remain private.
When feelings associated with those named above start to materialize you need to seek medical attention right away.
Now, I know you’re a man and you view the visit to your local doctor with disdain. This does not resemble a scene from Maximus in the Coliseum. Get your head out of your ass, and make the appointment. Do you want to become another statistic? Take action today.
The U.K. based charity Mind (8), defines Anxiety: Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future.”
At the 2019 World Economic Forum (9), gathering in Davos. Those suffering from Anxiety on a global stage were estimated at 275 million. Anxiety can take many forms. Jesus, I think everyone feels anxious at certain times of the day/year depending on what is impacting their thoughts.
Beware the saber tooth tigers. They are in every city! Our brains were built to protect us from danger. When does your fight or flight mode become activated? Let’s explore some of the most common situations;
- The public speaking event-Just say I forget what to say.
- Addressing conflict-I don’t like these situations.
- Vehicle examination check-Is the car clean underneath?
- Getting stopped by the police-What did I do Guvnor?
- The engagement proposal-Jesus, I’m sweating buckets.
- Run, there’s a spider-Give me that newspaper.
- Asking the boss for a promotion-I might get fired.
- Putting yourself out there to be judged-Do they not like me?
- Social gatherings, you don’t feel comfortable within-I get nervous in crowds.
- What if I miss this penalty?-No one died-Move on.
There is a myriad of others. However, they all provoke physical/psychological reactions you can feel. How? The heart rate quickens, the body tenses, and you’re hyper-sensitive to potential danger. That’s the spider senses in action. During the period 2017-2018, there was a 25% increase (10), in consumers buying books on Anxiety (Barnes and Noble). Just reflect on that previous sentence. Anxiety disorders affect more women than men. However, as with Depression, this is another non-discriminatory condition.
According to the World Health Organisation (2016), the economic cost of Depression and Anxiety (11), is £651 billion per annum. These are staggering financial outlays for conditions that could be managed before taking hold? Each country/city/town/community both urban, suburban, and rural will be impacted by these two silent assassins.
Take a look around you. Who is suffering in your family, friends, or community? Can you do anything to assist? I’ve battled these silent killers as I’ve moved through life’s many challenges. The first step is always the most crucial. You need to take it.
It’s not that you have to find the answer, you are the answer”-Gary John Bishop
Prevention as Medicine
Unfortunately, there is no magic potion you can drink to prevent the onset of Mental Ill Health. If there was I would already be a mass distributor! No these are struggles you must face. I would rate maintenance of your mental wellbeing as of, or equal to that of physical health.
Refrain from promoting one at the neglect of the other. You must take care of yourself. Why would you want to live your life in a zombie-induced state? Taking pills to help you manage your day is not a sustainable solution. It’s a road to ruin mentally.
There are hundreds of ways to maintain your well-being. However, if you follow these 3 steps below (a process I used when struggling) you won’t be far from healthy maintenance;
- Self-care: Do you exercise regularly (even a brisk walk), maintain a healthy diet (drop the 16-inch pizza and 6 cold ones 4 times a week), read books, listen to uplifting music, meditate or take time out. Get these into your daily routine. Especially as you get older.
- Watch out for signals– These are triggers or warning signs. You will start to discover your symptoms when you face challengers and adversity. When you know what they are you can seek medical advice if you need to. Alternatively, you may be able to work through them yourself after managing them previously.
- Go to doctors– Sounds easy. This is one of the most common problems with men and mental health issues. Talk to someone who can provide proper advice and treatment. Don’t worry your friends aren’t standing outside with large signs communicating your problems. Hello Mr. Excuses? Quit the bull shit.
I used the term shadow pandemic at the outset of this story. Anything that is visible but others choose to make it invisible are not causal actors. Listen to what someone is trying to tell you. This is not a movie set that requires extras. Protection of our Mental Health is central to our very survival. This is a life and death matter. Time to get out in front of your thoughts, and make it so.
The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness”-Abraham Maslow
- Mental Illness Will Cost the World $16 USD Trillion by 2030 (psychiatrictimes.com)
- How has coronavirus affected mental health? – BBC News
- The World Health Organization ( 2014 ) Defines Mental Health | Bartleby
- Depression| Mental Health Foundation
- Depression rates have DOUBLED since coronavirus hit Britain | Daily Mail Online
- The Rising Social and Economic Cost of Major Depression – KPMG Singapore (home.kpmg)
- Depression costs economy £8.6bn a year | The Independent | The Independent
- Anxiety and panic attacks | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems
- This is the world’s biggest mental health problem – and you might not have heard of it | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)
- Barnes & Noble says sales of books related to anxiety are soaring (cnbc.com)
- Depression and anxiety is costing global economy £651bn a year | Daily Mail Online
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