To think the talk about mental health has got out of hand?

(351 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

Nuitdesetoiles Mon 19-Apr-21 12:50:30

I really didn't know how to title this and have probably not phrased it very well but the thread re prince Phillips funeral got me thinking about something I've been pondering for a while. I'm a mental health professional myself, therapy trained used to dealing with complexity and high risk however...

It would seem that the "it's good to talk" has got out of hand, everyone is talking to anyone about their mental health, every undesirable emotional state (many of which are a natural but unpleasant part of life) seems to now attract a diagnosis. It's uncontaining and uncomfortable. I'm very unsure about the recent mental health first aid initiative, the outcomes aren't great. And talking endlessly outside of a structured boundaried space is actually detrimental to people's well being.

It also risks those with very complex and troubling difficulties not getting the help they need, and trivialises those conditions. Bi polar is extremely distressing and disabling for people yet it seems to be the diagnosis du jour. Don't get me wrong challenging stigma is always a positive thing but the endless disclosure sometimes feels a little overwhelming. I no longer tell new people my role, as it triggers unwanted and uninvited disclosures from strangers which aren't helpful for them or me.

Many of dds friends (14) have "anxiety issues" and are being farmed out to private therapists rather than having sensible conversations with their parents about how to cope. DD herself said her brother has "anger issues" as he flung a trainer off the other day and"needs to see someone", no he was cold with a raging hunger and she was winding him up! Warm dry clothes and some food sorted him out a treat.

I'm interested in the perception on here... And what we do about it...

OP’s posts: |
Everley Mon 19-Apr-21 12:54:46

I wish the “it’s good to talk” idea had been more prominent when I was a young child and teenager. It might have enabled me to have the help I needed and not be completely riddled with anxiety as an adult. I spent the best part of my late childhood and teenage years absolutely crippled by anxiety and never said a word to anyone.

TrickyD Mon 19-Apr-21 12:55:08

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

NoIDontWatchLoveIsland Mon 19-Apr-21 12:57:31

Yanbu.

When my grandfather lost his very elderly wife after 50+ years of marriage and was understandably down about it for some months afterwards, the family GP suggested he was "depressed". We pointed out he was in fact bereaved and his reaction was normal.

notanothertakeaway Mon 19-Apr-21 13:00:31

I agree. People are too quick to self diagnose anxiety for e.g. worrying about exam results or a driving test, when it's entirely appropriate to feel anxious, but you are but unwell

mynameiscalypso Mon 19-Apr-21 13:00:42

It's difficult though isn't it? My psychiatrist says I have severe MH difficulties (including depression, anxiety, anorexia and PTSD). I'm on medication and have had A&E visits in the past due to self-harming. But I think I'm a fraud and it's just that I'm shit at dealing with real life and everything that everyone else has to deal with. Your post - while not intended that way I'm sure! - makes me feel even more like that and therefore even more guilt and self-hatred.

garlictwist Mon 19-Apr-21 13:02:52

I agree - I also think it makes us lose sight of the fact that it's normal to feel depressed or down sometimes and that's OK, we needn't always pathologise it or be scared of it - it's part of the ups and downs of life.

That isn't to say that genuine "medical" depression doesn't exist - it does, and should be recognised and treated accordingly. But just feeling a bit blue is OK too.

therocinante Mon 19-Apr-21 13:02:52

I think YABU, a bit.

People tell you about things related to your job? Welcome to... well, anyone else's world. My uncle, a GP, gets people whipping their weird rashes out on trains, in the pub, and at funerals. I work in finance and am frequently asked to advise (illegally!) on pensions and mortgages and all sorts. The difference is that 20 years ago people would have been much less likely to admit to mental ill health, so the fact that your profession has become - like any other - a topic of conversation is a good thing, I think, even if it's annoying to you personally.

everyone is talking to anyone about their mental health

Why's that a problem?

every undesirable emotional state (many of which are a natural but unpleasant part of life) seems to now attract a diagnosis

Fine, but surely it's useful for people to know that having, I don't know, post-natal depression or anxiety etc are often natural but unpleasant parts of life, instead of struggling on alone? If a diagnosis helps them and they meet the criteria for it, what is the issue?

It doesn't have to be serious for it to be relevant. If I get a headache, it doesn't make it less painful to not acknowledge it's a headache - it's still a headache that could require a course of action (drink some water, stop staring at my screen, take a paracetamol). You shouldn't only acknowledge mental ill health when it's serious - being aware of fluctuations in mood and mental health is actually a really useful tool to help manage your own emotions. And if you're not able to manage them, then diagnosis and being aware of your symptoms or feelings is also useful in seeking help.

I understand your point about diagnoses du jour - I've seen DID become wiiiildly 'popular' as a diagnosis, for example. But for every 10 people exaggerating symptoms or misunderstanding, there are a few who genuinely need help, who didn't know it was available to them or that they even could give what they were experiencing a name. I think that's a net positive and that those who are seeking a diagnosis of something to feel accepted by a particular community or to explain their behaviour will either get over it, or seek diagnosis and not receive it.

therocinante Mon 19-Apr-21 13:04:31

TrickyD

“I have anxiety issues” . Used as a get out of jail free card. What it usually means is ‘I am a bit worried about a trivial issue’. Useful for attention seeking though.

You sound lovely. Surely you can recognise the difference between:

1. I feel anxious = situational, generally fleeting, may or may not be used to 'get out of' something.

2. I have anxiety = an actual issue.

I really hope you're not just telling anyone you meet who has actual anxiety that they're an attention seeker 🙃

Nuitdesetoiles Mon 19-Apr-21 13:06:15

mynameiscalypso

It's difficult though isn't it? My psychiatrist says I have severe MH difficulties (including depression, anxiety, anorexia and PTSD). I'm on medication and have had A&E visits in the past due to self-harming. But I think I'm a fraud and it's just that I'm shit at dealing with real life and everything that everyone else has to deal with. Your post - while not intended that way I'm sure! - makes me feel even more like that and therefore even more guilt and self-hatred.

Yes didn't mean it that way at all, but can see where you're coming from. People with significant mental health issues need treatment and support, which can include therapy... However therapy isn't always where it's at, and personally I think can sometimes be harmful. Therapy within a defined structure can sometimes help, however drawn out problem saturated conversations without a structure I think can be harmful.

OP’s posts: |
MerryDecembermas Mon 19-Apr-21 13:06:16

Agree. It's debilitating. People to feel perfectly normal emotions in response to a life event, only to have it labelled as a disorder as if there is something wrong with them.

I would like all "disorders" to be renamed "responses".

Imagine how empowered we would be to say "I am having an anxiety response"
? Then it is made quite clear that symptoms don't just randomly occur in a vacuum.

therocinante Mon 19-Apr-21 13:07:13

garlictwist

I agree - I also think it makes us lose sight of the fact that it's normal to feel depressed or down sometimes and that's OK, we needn't always pathologise it or be scared of it - it's part of the ups and downs of life.

That isn't to say that genuine "medical" depression doesn't exist - it does, and should be recognised and treated accordingly. But just feeling a bit blue is OK too.

I agree and disagree. Yes, we should absolutely be aware that fluctuations in mood are normal, even ones that last longer than others - but I don't think it's pathologising it to be aware of it, and name it as such. Maybe it's more about terminology - if someone is, as a PP used, bereaved, and they describe that as being depressed, if it's useful to them to understand how they feel and what possible options they have to tackle it, I don't think that's a problem. Nor does it take anything away from someone who has long-term capital-D Depression.

mynameiscalypso Mon 19-Apr-21 13:08:48

@Nuitdesetoiles Oh I totally agree re therapy - there's a reason I only see a psychiatrist and no longer see a psychologist!

Nuitdesetoiles Mon 19-Apr-21 13:10:52

therocinante

I think YABU, a bit.

People tell you about things related to your job? Welcome to... well, anyone else's world. My uncle, a GP, gets people whipping their weird rashes out on trains, in the pub, and at funerals. I work in finance and am frequently asked to advise (illegally!) on pensions and mortgages and all sorts. The difference is that 20 years ago people would have been much less likely to admit to mental ill health, so the fact that your profession has become - like any other - a topic of conversation is a good thing, I think, even if it's annoying to you personally.

everyone is talking to anyone about their mental health

Why's that a problem?

every undesirable emotional state (many of which are a natural but unpleasant part of life) seems to now attract a diagnosis

Fine, but surely it's useful for people to know that having, I don't know, post-natal depression or anxiety etc are often natural but unpleasant parts of life, instead of struggling on alone? If a diagnosis helps them and they meet the criteria for it, what is the issue?

It doesn't have to be serious for it to be relevant. If I get a headache, it doesn't make it less painful to not acknowledge it's a headache - it's still a headache that could require a course of action (drink some water, stop staring at my screen, take a paracetamol). You shouldn't only acknowledge mental ill health when it's serious - being aware of fluctuations in mood and mental health is actually a really useful tool to help manage your own emotions. And if you're not able to manage them, then diagnosis and being aware of your symptoms or feelings is also useful in seeking help.

I understand your point about diagnoses du jour - I've seen DID become wiiiildly 'popular' as a diagnosis, for example. But for every 10 people exaggerating symptoms or misunderstanding, there are a few who genuinely need help, who didn't know it was available to them or that they even could give what they were experiencing a name. I think that's a net positive and that those who are seeking a diagnosis of something to feel accepted by a particular community or to explain their behaviour will either get over it, or seek diagnosis and not receive it.

I think it's possibly a problem as experience tells me lots of emotive, unboundaried problem saturated conversations are unhelpful rather than helpful. However disclosure and a supportive empathic response with some ideas about what to do can be really helpful.

Re the job thing, I get it and I'm really interested in a lot of jobs e.g meet an academic and ask them about their research interest etc. However what I don't do is ask them for explicit advice or disclose my own personal experiences to them. Maybe that's because I understand about boundaries.

OP’s posts: |
raspberrymuffin Mon 19-Apr-21 13:12:42

The 'good to talk' stuff seems to be aimed at those with mild depression and anxiety, and doesn't actually offer any help to people with more serious conditions. DH is bipolar, he has been on a waiting list for much needed counselling for coming on 2 years now, currently needs a medication review but won't call because he believes (not without justification) he'll be fobbed off. It's not talking with random people he needs, it's a mental health service with enough staff to actually help people who aren't currently in crisis. The 'good to talk' stuff allows people who aren't in the thick of it to believe that the governments (we're in Scotland) and the NHS are taking mental health seriously but they're just not, provision was shit even before covid and in our area they've used it as an excuse to stop bothering at all.

In the meantime I get bombarded with meaningless stuff from work about self care and taking responsibility for your mental wellbeing by going for walks at lunchtime. I don't need a walk, I need my husband to be well and I need everyone to stop pretending that a nice chat will make his childhood trauma and dodgy brain chemistry magically get better.

SpnBaby1967 Mon 19-Apr-21 13:13:03

Every man and his dog seems to have anxiety issues these days, especially health anxiety.

thecognoscenti Mon 19-Apr-21 13:13:46

TrickyD

“I have anxiety issues” . Used as a get out of jail free card. What it usually means is ‘I am a bit worried about a trivial issue’. Useful for attention seeking though.


Yes. It's totally normal to feel anxious about some things in life! 'My anxiety' is used to get out of lots of normal adult situations and responsibilities by some people and it detracts from those for whom it's a serious issue.

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 19-Apr-21 13:17:54

We need to view mental health care in the same way as we do physical health care in terms of how we look after ourselves; what good self care looks like and what are the warning signs that we need to either improve self care or seek additional help.

If people are talking about their feelings then in a good outcome they would be either, receiving validation, that yes, it's a normal response or actually, they are struggling more than is healthy and that needs addressing.

The problem comes in that people need to learn to share in a boundaried way. So not always downloading on to one friend (who may be crumpling under the pressure of disclosures) and choosing who they download on to, so they get the appropriate response back.

People struggle to know that an appropriate level of uncomfortable emotions are healthy and expressing them in a boundaried way is also healthy.

The problem is, that we've for so long, as a nation been traditionally supportive of 'stiff upper lips', that its very unsurprising that many people have no idea of what good mental health looks like. It's not surprising that in opening up conversations around this, people will struggle in finding a healthy equilibrium.

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 19-Apr-21 13:18:42

Sorry, my punctuation went totally to pot!

NoIDontWatchLoveIsland Mon 19-Apr-21 13:19:20

I do also feel like the focus on diagnosing mental health issues for relatively commonplace unpleasant but normal emotional reactions means people then focus more on seeking external professional support (whether that's counselling, medication etc), and not really trying to self help. Human beings have survived a long time, we should celebrate and draw on our own resilience.

Stressedtoddlermum Mon 19-Apr-21 13:20:01

YANBU, I have a close family member who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia in the last few years. It’s been so scary and awful for him.

It’s put my own ‘mental health’ into perspective and made me realise actually how lucky I am. I do love a self help book, but I do think there comes a point where it’s actually in your own best interest to push through and not get caught up being one of those people with ‘mental health problems’. When it is very minor everyday stuff.

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 19-Apr-21 13:22:48

We need to be really careful that in this discussion we don't minimse the very real impact that anxiety and depression have on people, by somehow classifying them as not real mental health illnesses. I'm conscious that this thread will already be reading that way to people.

MrsTulipTattsyrup Mon 19-Apr-21 13:22:54

MerryDecembermas

Agree. It's debilitating. People to feel perfectly normal emotions in response to a life event, only to have it labelled as a disorder as if there is something wrong with them.

I would like all "disorders" to be renamed "responses".

Imagine how empowered we would be to say "I am having an anxiety response"
? Then it is made quite clear that symptoms don't just randomly occur in a vacuum.

Sometimes symptoms do occur in a vacuum, though. I am currently suffering badly in peri menopause and am experiencing crippling anxiety for the first time in my life, about anything and everything, completely disproportionately. None of what I am experiencing is a normal reaction to events - not even normal for me. I am usually very good at dealing with stress and the things which tip me over at the moment are not things which I usually find stressful. In fact I’ve managed to deal very levelly with the potential serious illness of a family member recently because it occurred at a better time in my cycle. Doesn’t stop me, on the wrong day, hearing that the weather is going to be windy and catastrophising at every noise that the roof is coming off the house.

Scottishskifun Mon 19-Apr-21 13:23:14

I get the not telling people your job role its like when people find out if there is a Dr suddenly it stops being a conversation about cheese at a bbq and becomes asking opinion on a medical matter.

I don't tell people my job as they have a preconception and I have been lectured at for over an hour on occasions because of their preformed opinions.

But I do think the mental health issues do need discussing so people seek help so it doesn't reach serious point. I think many people were managing to get along with it but lock downs and the pandemic has pushed them over the limit.
Also some of the experiences people have had as a result of the pandemic in medical settings has led to MH and trauma issues. I definitely have fallen I to this category and had to go private to get some help other then an online cbt course!

Mostly I think it highlights how underfunded and stretched the MH services are and the cuts they have faced.

MissyB1 Mon 19-Apr-21 13:24:18

raspberrymuffin

The 'good to talk' stuff seems to be aimed at those with mild depression and anxiety, and doesn't actually offer any help to people with more serious conditions. DH is bipolar, he has been on a waiting list for much needed counselling for coming on 2 years now, currently needs a medication review but won't call because he believes (not without justification) he'll be fobbed off. It's not talking with random people he needs, it's a mental health service with enough staff to actually help people who aren't currently in crisis. The 'good to talk' stuff allows people who aren't in the thick of it to believe that the governments (we're in Scotland) and the NHS are taking mental health seriously but they're just not, provision was shit even before covid and in our area they've used it as an excuse to stop bothering at all.

In the meantime I get bombarded with meaningless stuff from work about self care and taking responsibility for your mental wellbeing by going for walks at lunchtime. I don't need a walk, I need my husband to be well and I need everyone to stop pretending that a nice chat will make his childhood trauma and dodgy brain chemistry magically get better.

Yes I agree it’s a convenient way for the Government / department of health to address the mental health provision crisis. Much cheaper to tell people to chat to each other rather than provide actual healthcare! It’s all about the £££

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