The term mental illness is subject to a lot of misconceptions despite efforts to educate society about it. Feeling down for a couple of days is not depression and just because someone likes to be neat does not mean that they have OCD. Depression for some people is not being able to get out of bed because it is too much effort. OCD for some people is washing your hands until they bleed. Mental illnesses are brutal. They are not discriminative of age, gender, social class and culture.
Did you know that according to the Mental Health Foundation, 10 percent of 5 – 16 year olds have a clinically diagnosable mental illness? According to Child’s Trends, 10 percent of adolescents with mental illness have anxiety and 8 percent experience major depression. What is even more worrying about the high prevalence of mental illnesses in youth, is that recorded statistics may only be the tip of the iceberg as some people suffer mental illnesses in silence.
The causes of mental illnesses are not clear cut. Evidence suggests that mental illnesses are a result of the interaction between genes and the environment. People may have genes that make them vulnerable to developing a disease. Certain factors may enhance the expression of genes such as family problems, bullying and exam stress. However, the extent to which the environment and genes are culpable is debated.
Once upon a time, mental illnesses was dealt with in barbaric ways such as insulin shock treatment to induce a coma. What revolutionized treatment of mental illnesses, before the time of drugs was talking therapies. Research suggests that talking about problems may help to alleviate them. You do not have to talk to a therapist or a counsellor – talking to someone who you trust may make a significant difference. Also, exercise has also been shown to correlate with a positive state of mind. If you are a friend of someone who has a mental illness, what you could do is be there for them. You should not expect them to miraculously change back over night, but neither should you lose hope about their chances of remission.
The first step to dealing with a mental illness officially is going to the GP and explaining your symptoms. A doctor will diagnose you with a mental illness if you fit the criteria. Drugs to treat mental disorders are not usually prescribed for under 18 year olds because evidence had suggested they have an adverse effect. However, a GP is likely to refer a patient to a therapy.
Now in Brent, GP’s can refer young people from 11 – 21 years to the Brent Centre. Most of their services are on the basis that a young person is referred either by the GP or teacher. The services offered are psychotherapies which is the broad term for therapies that treat emotional and mental health issues. The Brent Centre has a lot of bases, including schools such as Preston Manor.
If you want to find out more information about what Brent Centre do and how you can locate them, please visit their website: http://www.brentcentre.org.uk/
by Linda Moronfolu, 17