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History of Mental Health, Just for Grown-Ups?

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Our modern perceptions of Mental Health differ greatly from the historical understanding of the term which was once whispered between societies with a high level of negative stigma attached to it. Religious medicine in the European Middle Ages provided two contrasting but complementary understandings of ‘madness’. Many believed people were occasionally controlled by demonic forces, which needed to be ritually exorcised by priests.

The term ‘mental health’ was popularised in the early 1900s as physicians and previously treated asylum patients wished to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, and said ‘illness’ reinforced prejudices against asylum patients because it implied segregation between the sick and the well.

Now in a contemporary world in which we are surrounded by negative externalities on a daily basis, the number of us being diagnosed with Mental Health issues is growing significantly. The result of this is that the ‘stigma’ which had been previously been associated with the term has lessened in consequence and the issue is largely socially accepted, especially in the working environment.

But is this matter isolated to those of us, adults, who are subject to the pressures of the 9-5 job, the mortgage, fluctuating fuel price, everlasting Media coverage of inflation, interest rates and climate change? It would be naive to consider this so.

Many fail to contemplate that a possible explanation behind the horror films which portray a ‘possessed’ child in a storyline taken from a historic setting, may well perhaps of suffered from a Mental Health issue, rather than a demonic force trying to wreak havoc.

1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 - 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood, less than half were treated appropriately at the time…

The Government has recognised the need to take action and preventative measures with Children and Young People to ensure that an individual’s issues can be managed or tackled before they venture into the abyss of adult life.

In the March 2015 Budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £1.25 billion of additional investment in mental health. £1 billion will be provided over the next five years to start new access standards for children and adolescent services, which the Government anticipate will see 110,000 more children cared for over the next Parliament. 
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