Dave's Progress. Chapter 97: Mental Health and Social and Economic Deprivation.

It's been quite a while since my last blog, so I'm sure you're all waiting in eager anticipation for whatever crumbs of wisdom and insight you may pick up from my abundant intellectual table. OK, so maybe I exaggerate. Maybe I even "big myself up" to ludicrous and grandiose proportions, as during my illness I was wont to do. But the theme of time running by has lately been of interest to me as I have just passed my 39th birthday. So, given my propensity for being both mentally and physically unwell, I feel it is good to bear in mind that, to use that over-used phrase, "time waits for no man". In consideration of that, here is yet another blog for your delectation.
As this is a blog primarily about mental health, then, it is fitting that my subject be, erm, mental health. And, as you may have gleaned from the somewhat sober title, it is about the link between social and economic deprivation and mental ill health.
Being from Stoke-on-Trent, we at the Pathways Group are no strangers to a little social and economic deprivation, as, it seems, Stoke is often near the top of the list in terms of these criteria. Indeed, in a recent document by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, entitled "No Health without Public Mental Health: The Case for Action", the link between social and economic deprivation and mental ill health was made clear, it stating that mental ill health "is consistently associated with deprivation, low income, unemployment, poor education, poorer physical health and increased health risk behaviour." And, Stoke-on-Trent scores consistently highly on this list of criteria, with 14% of the area's populace being unemployed or unable to work, 23% lacking any educational qualifications, and a massive 46% of private households classified as being in fuel poverty. The risk, therefore, of an increased number of people facing mental ill health in my own locality would appear to be significant.
Perhaps significantly, also, the Royal College of Psychiatrist's document would seem to fly in the face of the purely medical model of psychiatry, stating, as it does, that such environmental factors have a great deal of impact on mental ill health. It has always been my belief that environmental factors should be taken into consideration when accounting for any one's mental ill health, as well as the purely genetic or biochemical factors. To be fair to mental health services, this is usually the approach taken, but in the treatment of psychoses, at least in this country, the purely medical model seems to prevail. The prescribing of anti-psychotic medication seems always, then, to be the first option explored, assuaging, as it does, the chemical imbalances in the brain which the medical model sees as the major cause of illness. However, in a recent book, "Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Schizophrenic Psychoses: Past, Present and Future", it is shown how psychotherapy has been and is being used to treat psychosis, ranging from traditional Freudian approaches to cognitive behavioral therapy and indeed, almost any other human intervention. Indeed, the book shows that in other countries, such as Finland, psychological approaches have become far more established than in the UK, with neuroleptic medication being used cautiously, for shorter periods and in lower doses than in most industrialised countries. This is a refreshing approach to my mind, as it would appear to take away the risk of the often harmful and physically unhealthy side-effects of such medication.
Ideed, it would seem that many have seen the potentially damaging effects of social and economic deprivation on our health. Even as far back as the writing of Engels, as the newly industrialised cities began to appear, he remarked that there was "something in the turmoil of (their) streets against which human nature rebels."
Further to this, the one-time celebrity psychiatrist Oliver James seems to have constructed, in various books, a whole thesis that mental ill health is not just affected by environmental factors, but more specifically by the very system of advanced Capitalism itself. Citing such things as the endless competitiveness and the inducement of "status anxiety" which the system promotes, he believes that our way of life is an inherently unhealthy one.
So, when speaking of mental ill health, it is perhaps always apt to remember environmental factors such as social and economic deprivation, as it seems that they are just as important as biochemical or genetic factors in inducing mental illness. And only by doing something in these areas, which some suggest may mean a whole re-evaluation of our current way of life, can we hope to begin to redress the increased risk of mental ill health in areas like my own beloved Stoke.
That's all for now from your normal, average, delusional and paranoid man.


bazza said…
It's very difficult to comment on this sad situation David.
I can't tell from your post what you think of Oliver James's outlook; I think I agree with it, myself.
David said…
Dear bazza,
I suppose the situation I describe is a sad one, particularly in my own locality of Stoke. I do try to put a positive spin on some of these issues, but it is difficult sometimes when the subject matter is so inherently, well, depressing.
To make it even more so, I think I too agree with Mr. James, as another statistic reveals that recovery rates for things like schizophrenia are still better in the so-called "developing" nations than the fully industrialised ones. The reasons for this are debatable, but the difference in culture and the way mental illness is regarded in such places must, I think, play its part.
Thanks for your comment, bazza.
With Very Best Wishes,
dcrelief said…
Dear David,
I like your blog's new look; such wonderful colour. Orange is considered the colour of unity!Time indeed does not wait, yet I often feel it's stalled, or else rushing away.
I too agree with Oliver James. Given the current economic status here, people are unhappy, to the point of illness. Accepting life on life's terms is sometimes difficult. It pushes people to the brink of pain. Then they're subjected to further judgement by others who have no clue.
Thank you for this post. I often find something inspiring in your writings.
Peacefully, Dixie
dcrelief said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said…
Dear Dixie,
Thank you for your comment.
I suppose with the, it would seem, world-wide economic recession going on, lfe is increasingly difficult for many. In terms of my own locality, we are facing even more cut-backs than previously experienced.
I'm glad, though, that you find something inspiring here. At least that's one positive thing!
Thanks again, dc.
With Very Best Wishes,
klahanie said…
Dear David,
I'm so very sorry to have arrived so late after the publishing of this posting. And yes, I always await, with eager anticipation of your postings. I sit by my computer and wait for yours to pop up. Your blog posting, that is. Of course, you know I've been rather poorly, but that should be no excuse for not getting here sooner. Then again...
Okay, I just rambled. I totally relate to what you have so eloquently stated, here. So to briefly concur on one point. It is indeed vital that for the sake of our mental health, that we live in a positive environment.
The way it has been lately, what with the potential thinking of a 'no future' outlook, it has caused a lot of folks to have concerns about their mental health wellbeing. As you are aware, I have someone very close to me who has been directly affected by the uncertain economic climate.
I try to remain optimistic that the future will become more positive. Our welfare depends on it.
With kind wishes, Gary.
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thanks for your comment- please don't worry about arriving late, after all it's better than never!
These are indeed trying times, one just hopes that they will soon pass and we can move on to brighter things.
So, I hope both you and your family stay well, with special pawsitive wishes to Penny, of course.
With Very Best Wishes and a jumbo Christmas Cracker, your way,
Hello Dave,

I found your post filled with an undeniable truth. I feel our individual socioeconomic situations do play an enormous part in our mental, and physical, well-being. How could it not? Unfortunately, those that suffer daily from these stressors are 'lumped' together in one category - and each person is unique in their needs, therefore needing their own individually designed therapy. What works for one, might not work for another. And what of those who are unable to reach out for help due to lack of funds or initiative? And who among us does not have issues of some sort? It is within each of us to suffer doubt and self-deprecation...it's just some suffer more.

I commend those who continue to research medical therapy for those who suffer mental disorders, but medication is not all that is needed. You wrote it well, Dave...

You've stirred my thoughts today. It was a pleasure meeting you.

M.D.(Mattie's daughter)
David said…
Dear M.D.,
Thanks for your lovely comment and I'm glad you found something here to stir your thoughts.
I am also very glad that you will continue with Mattie's blog- it is a source of inspiration to all who read it.
With Very Best Wishes,

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