Monday, 8 September 2014

Are we all mentally ill?


So I am currently taking part in some free on-line further eduction courses and the first one to start is surround the topic of mental health.

Now I am meant to be reading articles and watching videos but I was distracted by a report in the further reading list - it is labled as a introduction to mental health and psychology.

I would argue we are all mentally ill – just varying degrees of it. Discuss :)

You can find out more about this course and other free courses at

(1)   “There is good reason to believe that mental health and ‘mental illness’ (and different types of mental ‘illness’) shade into each other and are not separate categories.”

I read this in the report from the suggested reading list and it sparked a discussion I had once in a pub (where all good discussions take place ;).

 My point in the discussion was there is no normal. I honestly believe everyone has some level of mental health issue or mental distress as the report phrases it. I imagine the population as a box and whisker diagram

The vast majority fit inside the box and I am sure we all know of people or are on the edges of the box by Q1 (lower quartile) and Q3 (upper). For instance in the report it brought up how a Dutch TV programme had met people who hear voices in their heads but were not mentally ill.

(2)   When we first met these people in the wake of the TV programme, we were quite astounded because, like most psychiatrists and indeed most lay people, we were used to regarding people who hear voices as mentally distressed.We were forced to change our ideas when we were confronted with well-balanced, healthy people...”

Then we have the whiskers. The whiskers show the most extreme data points. These data points tend to be the sensationalised view given by the media – the view which creates the stereotype and stigma surrounding mental health.

(3) “In 2009, the total population in England and Wales was just over 43 million. It is estimated that about one in six of the adult population will have a significant mental health problem at any one time (more than 7 million people). Given this number and the 50–70 cases of homicide a year involving people known to have a mental health problem at the time of the murder, clearly the statistics data do not support the sensationalised media coverage about the danger that people with mental health problems present to the community.”

So  is it as black and white as "a person can either be mentally ill or not"?
 I would argue we are all mentally ill – just varying degrees of it. I would also argue that alot of people are pushed further from the median by the weight of living.

Discuss :)

Quotes 1 and 2  from Recent advances in understanding mental illness and psychotic experiences, A report by The British Psychological Society - on the further reading list. Quote 3 is from the Time to Change website. Time to Change is a campaign run by the mental health charities MIND and Rethink to end the stigma of mental health.