How can we prevent future mental illness suffering?

17 Jan 2017

It is wonderful how Moodscope enables this brave community to share support, experiences and tips for 'getting through' life. But that shows a sad fact; most people with mental illness, whether it be diagnosed as anxiety, depression, bipolar, psychosis, personality disorder, OCD, whatever – don't actually get out of it completely. A good outcome is to be able to live 'ok', perhaps supported by meds. The ongoing impacts on happiness, and on ability to work, are huge. There is no glory or pleasure in being mentally ill, and it is not part of identity.

We also know that genetic inheritance is a big causal risk factor. If we suffer from mental ill-health, there's a much higher chance that our children and nieces and nephews will do too.

Wouldn't it be great if we could prevent this suffering going on down the generations? What more loving thing can we do for future generations but to help them head this suffering off before it even starts?

When Paul Farmer surveyed the public for the NHS Mental Health Taskforce in 2015, he include the 'prevention' word, really for the first time in public discourse (globally); it went straight to the top of key issues [].

Now the debate is developing, led by NGO's such as Mental Health Foundation [] - full disclosure I am a trustee - and Mind [], think tanks such as EPI [] and Mental Elf [], and Public Health England [].

My view is that parenting is a key factor for many, and could easily be improved (in fact I think there should be a mandatory parenting certificate for all parents-to-be, just like a driving test, focusing on parenting well for the future mental health of the child). As well as unconditional love and attachment, and preventing abuse of all forms, wiser parenting would include keeping expectations reasonable (high achieving children often become confused as to whether they are loved for themselves or their A grades, and get trapped on a mouse wheel that is impossible to sustain), and working hard to stop drug intake before the child's brain has reached adulthood.

I also am very hopeful about pre-emptive CBT; equipping school children with the idea that some of their [or their friends] thoughts may be wonky and irrational ('Facebook says everyone else is having a non-stop party life – I must do the same'). Research shows that pre-emptive CBT reduces depression incidence in at risk people [].

The Moodscope community could be wonderfully helpful here;

- What do you think caused your mental illness? Could it have been prevented?

- What are you doing to prevent your illness recurring in your children or nieces and nephews?

Adrian Stott

A Moodscope supporter.

(My personal opinions:

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

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