JUST 13 per cent of people are living with high levels of good mental health, according to a new report which also claims that and two in three adults face mental health problems in their lifetime. “It is time to really address this nationwide problem,” said Mandy Nichols director of Ilkley-based Headspace, one of the region’s largest providers of counselling and psychotherapy.
“So much needs to be done and can be done to address these shocking statistics,” added Mandy, who believes that the starting point is to look at the vocabulary many of us use freely, but which, she adds, “undermines the implications of suffering from mental health issues.”
Words such as stressed, pressure and anxiety are freely used and in some cases children of primary school age are using these, she says. “These words said out of context or too freely mean that society is becoming desensitised to very real mental health issues.”
Together with fellow director and psychotherapist Juliet Thornton and 15 university qualified counsellors, Headspace provided 5,000 hours of clinical support last year across its Ilkley and Leeds clinics. People from all walks of life including professionals, top executives, self-employed businessmen and women, couples, accomplished athletes, students and an ever growing number of children accessed some form of counselling or psychotherapy with Headspace.
Despite providing support at this rate, Thornton still believes that many people suffering from mental health problems are either unable access support, or because of the perception surrounding mental health issues, they avoid seeking help until it becomes critical. “We are aware in some areas of Bradford, NHS waiting lists for psychotherapy are as long as two years,” she said.
Headspace works with an increasing number of university students and their parents. “We find that parents regard their children's psychological wellbeing as essential as paying for safe accommodation whilst they are studying,” said Mandy.
Some employers offer occupational health including mental health support, but many employees avoid accessing the resource for fear of exposing their vulnerabilities at work and the information finding its way on to their employment records.
One Leeds’ solicitor described his employer’s ‘open day’ for employees with mental health concerns where a counsellor was available in a particular meeting room at the firm. The room was under such scrutiny no one dared go near it he told Headspace.
“This is a typical example of a company trying to do the right thing where mental health is concerned but we believe there are better ways to deliver,” says Nichols. “We support many people from the legal and financial sectors and offer one to one counselling and psychotherapy in relaxed, discreet surroundings where they feel safe and confident.”
“We all have the potential to thrive and maintaining good mental health helps us to enjoy all parts of our lives,” said Nichols.
Headspace is a registered supporter of Headstogether Mental Health Charity.