Mental health services are currently under an enormous amount of pressure. There are a fewer beds available as well as longer distances to travel for mental health patients. Alzheimer_research

It is difficult to understand why there are so many cuts in mental health being implemented seeing as:

–          1 in 4 people will suffer from a form of mental health problems a year.

–          Ac combination of anxiety and depression is most common in the UK.

–          Depression affects 1 in 5 older people

–          UK have one of the highest statistics for self-harm in Europe.

Why do mental health problems occur?

Mental health problems are common in the younger generation; young adults and teens. The overwhelming causes of this are pressures in social and study life. Mass media be it print or digital and celebrity culture is a major cause of this. Teenagers are vulnerable and it is very easy to make them feel insecure and it is on this basis profits are made against them and they are made to feel like they’re not good enough. Teens are inducing vomits to lose weight, there are pressures in terms of having and maintaining relationships, there is an encouragement to follow the latest fashions and the latest things with fear of being left behind. For a teenager or a young adult this is very difficult because not only are they trying to ‘blend’ into society, they’re also having to handle pressures at school and college, family life and friends, not to mention they themselves are going through a phase of rapid mental and physical development, which means they are easy to mould in a specific way. To use an analogy, they’re a plant who are growing into a tree, as a plant will shoot up wherever there is sunlight, our kids will follow wherever there is guidance. Not all guidance is correct guidance therefore their development must be carefully managed.

On the other side, certain traumatic events and incidences can also cause depression and anxiety as well as malnutrition and over nutrition. Lifestyle arguably has more of an impact on mental health conditions than any other disease.

Conquering mental health problems

The emphasis should lie on prevention over cure. For an instance let’s forget about medication,  the first thing we need to do is teach our young generations to be comfortable in their own skin, be proud of who they are, how they look and so forth. Not only will this breed confidence and happiness within, it ensures they’re more productive in education and working life, are wise when making choices and are able to filter through all the dross that is thrown at them via the media and focus on important things.

We need to educate them on handling common issues and teach them coping mechanisms. Often, we only do this via therapy once they’re suffering; however, it makes more sense to teach this as part of a curriculum. The objective of schooling is to equip an individual to make a success of their life not only in their careers. A successful career does not always mean a happy individual. We need to teach our kids from a young age on coping mechanisms of common life issues and dilemmas we all come across at some point and in general breed critical thinkers.

Inevitably, equipping individuals reduces the chances of developing a mental condition but does not eliminate all possibilities. If a person is suspected to have or develop a mental health condition they will exhibit some of the following behaviours:

–          Prolonged low mood (over 2 weeks).

–          Irritability.

–          Loss of interest in hobbies.

–          Under eating.

–          Over eating.

–          Easily angered.

–          Tired

–          Insomnia

–          Lethargic

As can be seen with the above, mental health symptoms can be an oxymoron because one person battling with mental health may struggle to sleep but another may over sleep, likewise with diet and eating habits.

If in the unfortunate event a person is diagnosed with a mental health condition, it is extremely important to talk to them as much as possible before turning to medication. Counselling can be an effective means of treatment. Many children may not want to discuss issues with parents, in this case encourage them to talk to people whom they prefer such as another family member or a friend. Encourage them to communicate their problems through ways they prefer such as social media. Websites such as Black Dog Tribe, where people suffering from depression can express their issues, is an excellent example.

DCC are not dismissing the importance of medication in mental health, however, we believe that with the current state of bed shortages and budget cuts, working on prevention strategies are absolutely vital and this must begin at an early stage.

Mental health outcomes

Recording mental health outcomes are vital in keeping track and progress of a patient’s recovery whilst in treatment and recording any relapses. Effective recording can help identify the causes behind success or failure of treatment and then sharing that best practice. DCC are currently working with Professor Pan Enderby and Sheffield University in Therapy Outcome Measures (TOMs) projects involving automating data from TOMs form and visualising actionable insights on a dashboard.

Meeting of Minds

DCC have previously worked on a patient-led care project with Meeting of Minds, an organisation owned and run by patients. The purpose of the organisation is to enable patients to project lead their own care i.e. the concept is that patients know what is best for them (if they are in sound enough mental state to make their own decisions) and therefore should lead their own treatment with doctors and other health professionals simply facilitating the treatment not guiding the treatment.

The overbearing factor is to ensure individuals and organisations use data in the best way possible and that is why DCC exist. We are passionate about enabling health care professionals in caring better for patients by enabling them to make use of their data better. Data forms the basis of better decision making concerning a patients care amongst many other aspects.

If you’d like to learn more book your free workshop and onsite assessment or contact us for more information in using the power of data and technology in tackling mental health.