According to a recent report by the BACP, 75% of people don't get help for their anxiety and depression with mental health accounting for 23% of illness in the UK (cited in Therapy Today Dec 2014). This report is part of a call for the Government to close the gap between mental and physical health services available on the NHS. Surveys have also been carried out on the subject of people accessing counselling and psychotherapy and these do raise the question of what do we really think about our mental health?
As you have accessed this website and are reading this blog, I guess you are already thinking about your mental health, maybe you feel that counselling may help you deal with the way you are feeling but how long has it taken you to seek some help? More or less time than it would take to see your GP about a physical pain or illness that you have experienced? Another 2014 BACP survey (cited in Therapy Today July 2014) does highlight that more people in the UK have consulted a counsellor or psychotherapist than in 2010, up 7% to 28%, but what is stopping others?
Are we still concerned about the stigma surrounding counselling, does that put us off seeking help? Or is it because we feel we should be able to deal with our emotions ourselves? Are we embarrassed to say we need help? Is is due to finances or waiting lists or because we fear being labelled as crazy? Is it because we are scared of where the counselling process may take us or what form that process takes? Are we just not ready to deal with that stuff yet so ignore it? Whatever the stumbling block one question maybe to think about is would we hesitate just as much if it was a physical ailment?
We should also consider the impact our mental health has on our physical health such as sleeplessness, tiredness, abdominal problems such as IBS, weight loss or gain, aches and pains; they are linked. In 2010 the Royal College of Psychiatrists published a paper which highlighted the links between the two, for example depression rates are doubled in those with diabetes, hypertension or coronary disease and people who have medically unexplained symptoms and no clear diagnosis but suffer with mental health problems.
So whether it be depression, worrying and anxiety, stress or any other issue that you feel is getting on top of you, seek the help that you need. Just because it's not a physical problem doesn't mean it's not important, your mental health matters too.