Medical intervention to treat mental illness began in the 1950s. Since then, social acceptance and media coverage of the broad spectrum of mental health issues and those who suffer from them has come a long way. For some people though, medication still seems a step too far. In recent times especially, talking therapies, meditation, exercise and other practices that fall beneath the banner of ‘self care’ have become more and more talked about as forms of mental health management, which is fantastic progress.
In 2019 however, misinformation about a lot of things to do with mental health is rife. Instagram influencers can (and do!) publish posts under mental health hashtags telling followers about teas that will cure their anxiety. Or that taking a cold shower will loosen you from the grip of depression. Or that buying a squatty potty (yes you read that right) will make everything better. But despite the fact that prescriptions for antidepressants almost doubled in the 10 years leading up to 2018, suggesting that many people find them to be useful, it is still uncommon for a public figure to admit to taking medication to manage their mental health, unless, like Caroline Flack, or Chance The Rapper’s manager Pat Corcoran*, they are decrying their value.
Can we really say that as a society we are breaking down stigma for people with mental health issues, when we avoid speaking publicly about an effective and common form of treatment that has helped so many? Especially as a chronically underfunded NHS struggles to meet increased demand for psychotherapy.
“Unfortunately, stigma surrounding medication unnecessarily limits treatment choices, including those that have the potential to significantly improve one’s health and quality of life,” Dr Lisa Orban, a clinical psychologist, tells me. In combination with changes in diet, lifestyle and talking therapy, Dr Orban says she has seen “many patients benefit tremendously from medication.” She’s quick to caveat this by saying that prescription drugs are not for everyone and should only be taken in close consultation with a medical professional. In some cases, medication is vital, including with chronic conditions such as bipolar disorder where, she says, “medication is a critical part of staying healthy.” READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE