Whenever faced with a hurdle, we tend to address the immediate and obvious causes of the problem. Here’s some advice you probably heard growing up. ‘Find the root of the problem’. It’s a universal problem solving idiom.

Looking to the health sector, many organisations have improved over the years in tackling these mental health illnesses. Mind charity alone have reached over 390,000 people last year in England and Wales, up from under 200,000 in 2010. Samaritan charity’s volunteers spent 5.5 million hours to support callers who reached out for help in 2015-16.

But the majority tend to be solutions to the immediate problems. There’s a missing link: prevention.

This missing link is very apparent. Mental Health illnesses are still on the rise. One adult in six has a mental disorder in today’s society. One in four will develop mental illnesses in their lifetimes. It’s not just about treatment. We need to refocus our efforts to prevent and reduce these ridiculous statistics. What about those who don’t use mental health services? 75% of the population don’t, according to the Mental Health Foundation. How do we help them, knowing one in four of them have struggled, are struggling, or will struggle with a mental illness?

Our health sector needs to develop strategies so people can learn how to stop stress from turning into mental health distress. It needs to help prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place. How? By reaching out to those who don’t use mental health services, and those in everyday situations – workplaces, schools, etc. Provide information that would make it easy for our family and friends to notice differences and seek help.

Our health sector to prevent mental health problems from getting any worse, by providing proper, quality treatment.

Our health sector needs to prevent people from relapsing and falling into a cycle by supporting them after treatment. Counselling should come first and last, and be continuous.

Gaining the ability and strength to prevent will reduce the numbers of sufferers significantly, increase quality of life, allow our NHS to cope, and offer proper, high quality care. More focus on prevention is the way forward.

We need to work together.

“We know that neglect, abuse, poverty, work stress, relationship difficulties, and lack of timely access to good services all contribute to poor mental health. Whole communities need to recognise these factors and work together to reduce the causes, and intervene early, to give people the best evidence-based education and support.” – Geraldine Strathdee, clinical director for mental health, NHS England, 2014

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