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The Big Mental Health Question: Why are things getting worse?

Updated: Apr 10

As our society, our approach to mental health is very similar to our approach to behaviour. The system is based on a deficit approach and the adults, professionals and clinicians that support others start their approach by looking at what is wrong with the individual and using therapy as an opportunity to 'fix' them.


As with behaviour, this is often done using an authoritarian approach - I am an expert and so I'm telling you that you should feel like this, respond like this, think like this. The process is also entrenched in shame - patients arrive at the gates of therapy because the way they are thinking is wrong. They are judged, labelled and lessened in the same way we approach 'naughty children'.


And, as with schools, if people don't respond to those solutions, if they don't conform in the way the experts say they should, they are escalated and excluded - not from school but from society. Asking for help, showing distress or presenting in crisis puts you on the same conveyor belt and passes you through the same lines and boxes that many schools enforce on children.


It's a system that we know doesn't work. As a society, our access to information, to choice, to freedom, to rights, have been supercharged by technology. We have experienced a global pandemic that saw everyone rip up the rule book and today, people know they deserve more than lines and boxes. 


The statistics that exist around mental health won't begin to shift until our model of 'fixing' is replaced with one of 'supporting'. We need to recognise that relationships built on trust, acceptance and kindness are important everywhere and that beyond the school gates there are opportunities for many other systems to become relational, to enrich lives through building trust, developing esteem and nurturing distressed and vulnerable individuals rather than shaming them.

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