In 2020, there is a wide range of mental support services on offer, with unprecedented accessibility and slowly decreasing stigmas surrounding therapy and mental health problems more generally.
With this being said, the attitudes and availability surrounding mental health support have not always been so comprehensive – from the early psychological thoughts of ancient Greek philosophers to the influential theories of Sigmund Freud in the 19th and 20th century, the research and knowledge surrounding psychology has evolved significantly throughout time.
Focusing more particularly on the 21st century, the last 20 years have shown a notable change in the place mental health support has within society.
Eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness
Mental illness has historically been surrounded by a stigma; in terms of the self-stigma people with mental illness experience, as well as the more public stigma surrounding mental illness.
The stereotypes and prejudice that come as a result of the misconceptions surrounding mental health can have a significant impact on a person’s willingness to seek help, but also their care and recovery process. Weakness, self-doubt, or the need for independence in dealing with mental health are all feelings that a negative stigma encourages.
With increasing awareness and encouragement surrounding the importance of mental health aided through digital platforms and social media, as well as the support provided by organisations, businesses and individuals, the stigma associated with mental health is on a decline. Mental illness is becoming better understood on a more widespread basis, which is crucial in encouraging acknowledgement and a healthy approach to mental illness in individuals. As a result, more people are beginning to seek help and educate themselves.
A higher government priority on mental health
A significant factor in the improvement regarding the negative stigma surrounding mental illness, and one that has various other implications, is the priority that health sectors and regulatory bodies set on mental health.
A strong example of this can be seen in Australia’s government – NSW’s recurrent budget for mental health services in 2019-20 was $2.1 billion AUD; compare this to the 2007–08 budget, where spending on mental health had only just exceeded $1 billion AUD for the first time.
Generally, countries across the world are expanding their mental health services to provide better specialist, online support in varying forms.
Restructuring the way mental health services are provided
As a result of the increased approachability and availability of mental health services, the numerous types of services available are continuing to expand. In both online and in-person formats, many mental health service providers offer a comprehensive range of help options; take these counselling services by New Vision Psychology for example.
A wider range of more specialised services results in mental healthcare means that not only are people more likely to seek help that relates more closely to their situation, but they are also going to get superior help from a specialised professional.
As mentioned earlier, online approaches to mental health are becoming more prominent, also increasing the extent of restructuring, and in combination with a reduced stigma, meaning maximised impact of all forms of mental healthcare.
Finally, psychiatric services are experiencing a shift from hospital settings to community-based services, encouraging community awareness and ultimately marking a positive shift from the previous focus involving higher numbers of hospital admissions and higher patient length-of-stay.
Mental health support looking forward
Currently, mental health awareness and support are in a better position than it ever has been. With decreasing stigmas surrounding mental illness, higher levels and availability of support services, and restructuring of various approaches to mental health, the area is in a strong position looking forward.
With this being said, there is still much mental health support change to be implemented, as a negative perception and a lack of awareness continue to impact the effectiveness of support services.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.