Depression is difficult to live with. The stigma surrounding mental health diagnoses means that many don’t seek medical help and when they do getting the right treatment can prove hard.
Each year 50 million anti-depressant prescriptions are written. It is encouraging that more people are seeking help and it’s great that the medical profession is stepping up to the plate to offer help – but is it always the right support?
Depression is a form of mental illness and as with so many other health issues one size does not fit all. Anti depressants have their place but increasingly better alternatives are available that involve minimal or no drugs.
Support when a diagnosis is made is great, but as with all illnesses it is a two way street. While there is a responsibility on the patient to ask for help, society has a part to play to recognise the symptoms and offer support before intervention is inevitable, but also create the right psychological space for people to live and work in. It’s the old adage ‘prevention is better than cure.’
More could and should be done to ensure that both the space we inhabit, the opportunities we have, and the people we surround ourselves with, all boost our mental welfare.
During Mental Health Awareness Week we should all examine how we and those we love, live their lives and what steps could be taken that would improve them psychologically.
Key issues such as change and insecurity, relationships, opportunity, being in control of our own destiny and workload are all factors that have an impact.
Here at ubu we have made environments a key part of our uStep programme over the last 30 years.
It has constantly been updated as we have trialled and observed different ways and recorded how they have made a difference to the people we serve. The improvements have been amazing. For some a small change was needed to make a big difference while others have benefitted from a complete overhaul of their lifestyle, often involving a change of home, career guidance, new friends and often a change in medication. Placing the people we serve very firmly in control of their own destinies and letting them know that they have a major role to play in their own improvements, by letting us know what they want to achieve within their lives.
That has been their part of the psychological contract – telling us what they want. We have then worked to fulfil our part of the bargain with or without the support of society, families and friends.
By listening and then working alongside the people we serve, we have helped improve the lives of people who society had previously written off as beyond all hope and often shut away out of sight.
ubu believe that no one is beyond hope and that by encouraging people to be what they could be, they will become what they should be. Our ethos reaps rewards as more of the people we serve reduce their reliance on intervention and medication. And as they are able to live more independent lives fulfilling their own ambitions, society is also winning by benefitting from the reduction in health care costs.
During Mental Health Awareness Week we should all look for an opportunity to create a more positive psychological environment for everyone - to prevent, not cure depression.