Summarise and discuss the presentations of mental health in the two newspaper articles given in Appendix 1. (1500 words).
1. Summaries of cited media
“Tackling Mental Health Problems in a Downturn”
(Gill, Trevelyan, The Times, 30th September 2009)
This article, written by the Head of Good Practice at ACAS, suggests that despite the difficulties in accurately diagnosing mental health problems, the government has calculated that mental health related sickness is costing the UK economy £26 Billion per year.
This is increasing during the economic downturn, primarily due to the fear of loss of jobs.
Consequently, government agencies are working with employers to help reduce the causes of mental health, including the Health and Safety Executive who have introduced management standards to reduce stress at work.
Conclusion – “there needs to be a big attitude change in the way we view mental health…...given that up to 1 in 4 will suffer from mental health problem….it is an issue workplaces can no longer ignore”.
Stiff Upper Lip Culture blamed as British men top the Euro depression league. (Jenny Hope, Daily Mail 1st May 2008).
A study of mental illness in six countries, by Professor Michael King, found that the rate of major depression and panic syndrome was highest among males in the UK. Professor Cary Cooper from British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, suggests traditional British cultural patterns and long working hours means men are less able to talk about their problems than women or express their emotions so become less emotionally intelligent than women.
Mental illness and stress are now the most common reasons for claiming incapacity benefit, but there is effective treatment available for depression and anxiety.
2. Further discussion
Some areas of the media are suggesting that after Swine Flu, the UK is facing a new threatening pandemic, depression and stress. Alarming statistics, like those above, appear to substantiate this narrative. Society is turning to medical and pharmaceutical bodies to offer miracle cures. This essay will challenge some of these notions.
Firstly, this is very much a global, not national issue. In a World Health Organisation (WHO) report in 2002, it states:
• 154 million people globally suffer from depression and 25 million people from schizophrenia; 91 million people are affected by alcohol use disorders and 15 million by drug use disorders. • About 877,000 people die by suicide every year.
• In south Asia, the number of people who commit suicide is higher than the number who die because of road accidents, terrorism and HIV/Aids. It is among the top three causes of death in the population aged between 15 and 34. • Mental illness will be the second biggest cause of death and disability by 2020
So what has caused this epidemic?
Engel (1977) advocates the bio psychosocial model, where biological, psychological and social factors systemically react in creating the mental state. It could be argued that the theory in Chapter 4 of D120 course reader, that industrialisation has caused a self-destruction as people have been “wrenched from the land ….and forced into abstracted conditions of living in the capitalist economy”. The high suicide figures in South Asia arguably could therefore be linked to the area’s fast economic and industrial growth.
Brown, Harris and Hepworth (1995) state that misery has been linked to loss of some kind. Possibly, one of the links between the economic downturn and increasing levels of mental illness featured in the 2nd news article, could be the ultimate fear of the loss of a job and the associated material trappings.
However, there is not inconsiderable controversy about the diagnoses of exactly what constitutes depression – Winnicott (1988) for example argues depression and anxiety are just part of life, “…..probably the greatest suffering in the human world is the suffering of normal or...
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