Mental Health: How the UK Suffers with Anxiety and Depression

In the UK, one in six adults experience a common mental health problem every week and one in five consider taking their own life at some point (Mental Health Foundation). These numbers are shockingly high and far higher than I realised.

For every individual, mental health problems can arise in a completely different way. For some, it can be a life-changing event that plunges them into depression, but for others it could be something that could be described as more menial. 

I used to believe that people would be totally normal and fine, then suddenly one would have a major dip into a pit of depression and after a while they would be fine again and back to normal. But this is rarely the case. 

One of your best friends or family members could be severely struggling with anxiety or depression and you could have no idea.

To get an insight into how mental health problems can affect people, I interviewed Mollie Hart, 19, from Oxfordshire, who has suffered from depression for the last 18 months. 

These diseases are often very treatable; the Royal College of Psychiatrists estimates that 50-65% of people taking anti-depressant medication will see an improvement (NHS.uk). In 2016-17, approximately 64 million anti-depressant prescriptions were made in the UK (chemist4U).

Attribution: Tom Varco

Anti-depressant medication is by no means a quick fix. Such medication can take 8-12 weeks to become effective. It is also recommended that patients take the medication for six months to a year.

Despite 12% of the population seeking treatment for mental health problems, only 3% receive psychological therapy, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Understandably, therapy is unlikely to work for everyone but it is reasonably plausible that more than a quarter of those being treated for mental health problems could benefit from therapy.

Attribution: Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan

While these problems are often very treatable, some sufferers chose to turn to suicide. 6,507 people in the UK died from suicide in 2018, with three quarters of them being male victims, despite depression among women being 15 percentage points higher than that among men (ramh.org).

This could be because depression is just more common among women, but is likely to be caused by the increasingly well renowned reluctance of men to speak about their mental health problems.

If you think you or somebody you know may be suffering from depression, here is a link to the symptoms from the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/clinical-depression/symptoms/

Similarly, here is a link to the symptoms of General Anxiety Disorder: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/clinical-depression/symptoms/

Furthermore, if you think you might benefit from speaking to somebody about your mental health or how to help someone else, here are some useful contacts: 

Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774

Mind: 0300 123 3393

Rethink Mental Illness: 0300 5000 927

Samaritans: 116 123

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