Facts about Mental Health

Some Statistics about Mental Health

1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year
Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain
Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men
About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time
Depression affects 1 in 5 older people living in the community and 2 in 5 living in care homes
British men are three times as likely as British women to die by suicide
The UK has one of the highest rates of self harm in Europe, at 400 per 100,000 population
9 in 10 prisoners suffer with some kind of mental disorder
It is estimated that approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem.
About half of people with common mental health problems are no longer affected after 18 months, but poorer people, the long-term sick and unemployed people are more likely to be still affected than the general population.
Of people with phobias or OCD, about 60% are female.
Men are more likely than women to have an alcohol or drug problem. 67% of British people who consume alcohol at ‘hazardous’ levels, and 80% of those dependent on alcohol are male. Almost three-quarters of people dependent on cannabis and 69% of those dependent on other illegal drugs are male.
In general, rates of mental health problems are thought to be higher in minority ethnic groups than in the white population, but they are less likely to have their mental health problems detected by a GP.
In 2004, more than 5,500 people in the UK died by suicide
Suicide remains the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35

Myths and Facts about Mental Health Issues

Myth: People with mental health problems are dangerous

The vast majority of violent crime is committed by people who do not have mental health problems. (1997 figures for England and Wales: 348,943 offences against the person recorded of which only 321 people were assessed as having mental health problems). Alcohol and drug abuse is a far bigger contributory factor in cases of homicide than any diagnosis of mental health problems (60% of cases committed by people with no mental health problems). People with mental health problems are six times more likely to be victims of homicide than the general population.

Myth: Care in the community has led to an increase in attacks by people with mental health problems

Fact: Home Office figures show that the number of attacks is actually decreasing.

Myth: People with schizophrenia have a split personality

Fact: This idea, like the Jekyll and Hyde story which reinforces it, is fiction. The majority of people with schizophrenia lead ordinary lives. In fact the true disorder where people suffer from split personality or multiple personalities is MPD also known as DID. (multiple personality disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder) and is unrelated to schizophrenia.

Myth: Psychiatric disorders are not true medical illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. People who have a mental illness are just “crazy.”

Fact: Brain disorders, like heart disease and diabetes, are legitimate medical illnesses. Research shows there are genetic and biological causes for psychiatric disorders, and they can be treated effectively.

Myth: Mental illness is the result of bad parenting.

Fact: Most experts agree that a genetic susceptibility, combined with other risk factors, leads to a psychiatric disorder. In other words, mental illnesses have a physical cause.

Myth: Depression results from a personality weakness or character flaw, and people who are depressed could just snap out of it if they tried hard enough.

Fact: Depression has nothing to do with being lazy or weak. It results from changes in brain chemistry or brain function, and medication and/or psychotherapy often help people to recover.


Please remember that these kinds of judgement calls against the mentally ill can do serious damage and stop people who desperately need help from reaching out about their problems. No one chooses to have a mental health problem and most people that do suffer from one spend most of their time and energy in trying to live a normal and stable life without drawing attention to themselves, they just want to ‘fit in’ and be like everyone else. Most people with mental health appear to be just like anyone else and the person you least suspect to be mentally ill could well be suffering internally. It could be your neighbour, a family member or even your best friend. Just because someone is smiling on the outside and cracking jokes or seemingly coping well with every day life does not mean that inside they are not falling apart.

It does not help when you belittle a person’s problems with comments like: “it’s not that bad” “Just think about all the starving and homeless people around the world” “I had a worse life than you” “we all have problems” “just don’t think about your problems” “well it’s in the past” “just think positive” “you just have to change the way you think”. All these statements minimise the persons suffering and only serve to invalidate them. What they need is someone to understand and to listen. Someone who will just accept that no matter how small a problem it seems or how big a problem it seems, whether there is worse that could happen or not, that the person is suffering right here and right now.

Remember that how much someone suffers is not relative to the issue at hand (all the time), what it is relative to is the coping skills the person has, their ability to implement them in times of hardship and the quality of support they have around them at the time. If someone goes through a huge ordeal but has lots of love, understanding, support, compassion and is able to implement self care skills, distraction techniques, reach out for help and know what will make them feel better, they may well get through the event far better and without being affected as deeply by the event as someone who goes through something that is not as big an issue but has little to no support, is isolated, is unable to reach out or vocalise their feelings or what they need to make them feel better and is unable to practice self care or distraction skills.

NEVER compare one persons problems with another, never compete about who has been through the worst or who hurts the most. We all cope with things differently.


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