Interesting Facts I Bet You Never Knew About Mental Health
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Hi, I’m Hilary and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. If you’ve found us for the first time, we are here to help you improve your English language skills. We release podcasts like this one every week, on a Monday. If you’re learning English, the best thing is to listen to lots and lots of spoken English language – by real English speakers. And our podcasts are on a variety of topics, lots of subjects, something different every week. Sometimes it’s a bit like a lesson. Sometimes it’s just me chatting about something that I hope that you’ll find interesting – like today’s podcast. Either way – it’s good for your English language skills.
Well, some of you who’ve signed up for the course, The Seven Rules of Adept English, which is our free course, you may know already that Adept English is not my main job. No. My main job is really quite different, as I am a psychotherapist. Now psychotherapy might be something that you have in your country – most countries in Europe do, and so does the US. But there are lots of parts of the world where psychotherapy isn’t very common. I’m similar to a psychologist – but my training, and my job is to work with people who have mental health problems, usually by sitting with them in a room and talking with them. The word health is generally used about our bodies. We say ‘Good health’ perhaps when we have a drink – like Bon Santé, or Prost! Good health means that our bodies don’t have any illnesses, any diseases – and we’re in good shape. It means we’re not overweight and we exercise and we eat good food – lots of vegetables. So that’s physical health. That’s a healthy body. When we talk about mental health, we’re talking here about the health of our minds. The word ‘mind’ in English – M-I-N-D really means what goes on inside your head. Mind is not so much your physical brain, it’s more how you think, how you handle your emotions. And there are healthy ways of thinking and unhealthy ways of thinking.
So my job is quite an unusual one. If you’re still not clear what sort of thing it is I do, have a look online at Sigmund Freud, F-R-E-U-D. He is sometimes called ‘the father of psychoanalysis’ – he’s the one who started it all! We have moved a long way since Sigmund Freud – and I don’t work like he did. I don’t have my patients lie on a couch, like Dr Freud. But there are some similarities. Another famous person, who helped start this work Carl Jung, J-U-N-G, but we do now use lots of other experts’ work and theories.
So most psychotherapists these days don’t work in the same way as Freud or Jung, but many of the ideas that we use come from there. We also have Neuroscience – that’s the scientific study of the brain. So that helps psychotherapists as well, it helps us in our work.
So what we call ‘Mental Health’, health of the mind, is a big issue in the UK. Lots of NHS money goes towards helping people with their mental health. Lots of people seek help, ask for treatment. There are diseases, illnesses of the mind – like Schizophrenia or Alzheimers – where somebody’s mind doesn’t work properly, or works differently from other peoples’. These kinds of illness are usually treated with medication – with pills from the pharmacy. So lots of money is spent on mental health in the UK to help people with these kinds of illnesses.
But that’s not really the work I do. One might think that given that the UK has the fifth largest economy in the world – it’s lucky to be one of the richer countries – that people would generally be happy. But this is not so – this isn’t the way it seems to work. It seems as though more people than ever before in the UK are seeking help for conditions like Anxiety and Depression. Anxiety is spelt A-N-X-I-E-T-Y and it means when people worry too much. Most of us worry sometimes, but people with Anxiety worry most of the time – and they worry about things which aren’t that bad or perhaps aren’t likely to happen. People may be told they’ve got Health Anxiety if they worry all the time about their health, or they think they’ve got terrible illnesses, when actually their health is very good. Sometimes people spend ages online, looking up all the possible illnesses they could have. People may be told that they’ve got Social Anxiety – that’s when they find it difficult to talk to people, especially people that they don’t know. Sometimes this means that they limit the type of work they do, because they’re too fearful, they’re too frightened about meeting new people. It feels important to them to stick with the people they know. So there are lots of different types of Anxiety.
Depression is the other common condition and this is when people feel unhappy – but it doesn’t always seem as though it’s a reaction to something in particular. We all feel unhappy sometimes, but this is different. Often people with depression don’t know the reason why they feel sad. Depression is spelt D-E-P-R-E-S-S-I-O-N – and literally it means ‘pressing down’, like you have a big, heavy weight over the top of you. It can be like a dark cloud hanging over your head – always a sad mood. Winston Churchill used to talk about his depression as his ‘Black Dog’. In the UK there are a lot of people taking medication, medicine for their Depression. And sometimes the medicine works and sometimes it doesn’t. Usually it’s a good idea to talk to someone to find out why you’re depressed, rather than just taking the pills. Most people prefer to try and make it better this way, rather than with medicine.
If you look at the statistics in the UK – that means the numbers, the data around this subject – it’s surprising, even to me. If you look at the total of the days lost at work in the whole of the UK, it is estimated that 1 in 5, 20% are lost because of depression or anxiety. And about 8% of the population have either depression or anxiety at given time.
Sometimes, when I talk with my colleagues about it, with other psychotherapists I know, we ask ourselves has it always been like this? Why does it seem as though there is so much Depression and Anxiety around? Is it just that it’s more acceptable now to talk about these things now? Did people feel this way before, but they just didn’t talk about it, or have words for it? Or is it that life is more difficult now, is there more pressure? Do people expect more from their lives? Life may be more difficult for some people, but doesn’t seem to be for others. Some of the most depressed and unhappy people I work with are those who’s lives look very nice from the outside. They have nice homes, nice families, jobs etc. but they’re still unhappy. Also I meet clients from other places in the world and often when I listen to their stories – of how difficult life has been for them in say, places like parts of Eastern Europe, the reasons for their feeling depressed relate to things that have happened to them, very definitely. When I work with people who’re depressed, I usually find there’s a definite reason somewhere, usually several reasons.
I tend to think that people probably have always had these problems, and that even in the countries where Depression and Anxiety aren’t talked about, people do still have these problems. But perhaps there aren’t the words to describe them. I think that by encouraging people to seek help, to talk about their problems – and to work on getting better, which people can and do all the time – that the world may be a bit happier. But I’m interested in what you think – message us if you want to know a bit more.
Just like normal, listen to this podcast a number of times. There are probably some words in here and phrases that you don’t know, but if you listen a few times, it should help you to learn them. You’ll find the transcripts – the written words for this podcast – and for every single other podcast on our website as usual. And if you want to really get going with your English – have a look at our courses on our website at www.adeptenglish.com.
Enough for now, have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.