Dr Karen Goodall on BBC Scotland’s The Nine

Well suicide is now listed as the
the biggest killer of British men under 45 so why are we failing so many people and
what can we do to reverse that alarming trend with me now to discuss this is Dr.
Karen Goodall a chartered psychologist from the University of Edinburgh on the
line we have Frank Furedi a sociologist and author at Karen Goodall to you
first, that’s a pretty straight question why are we, in your opinion, failing so
many people at the moment well I think M the footage that we’ve seen there is
really good in terms of raising some of the issues around mental health and I
think especially for men that’s one of the issues that we’ve had in the past so
that we know that the suicide rates for men are much higher for it than for
women they’re three times the rate we also know that of people who commit
suicide less than 27 percent have actually approached someone for mental
health support so I think there really is a big issue around stigmatization
especially for men in terms of talking about their emotions being able to to
seek help to say look I’m not doing well and I need someone to support me here I
think that’s one of the biggest factors Okay I want to bring Dr Frank Furedi in
and Dr Furedi you’ve written quite bluntly on this in the past and I think
it would would it be fair to assess your opinion as you know we were sometimes
too quick to categorize people too quick to to analyze yes oh no I think we need
a reality check because what we’re doing is we’re enrolling the line between
people with genuine mental health issues and most of us who have profound
existential problems and I’ve been studying this for over 20 years and
years and year out we’re told that the mental health crisis is getting worse
it’s far worse than you ever imagined and every year it seems to be the case
that it’s getting there just no solution and you would as a sociologist or as
anybody that studies epidemiology would take a step back and stay is it really
the case that there’s never a solution there’s never any improvement in
the problems it seems to me that I’ve drawn the conclusion that we’re
so drawn towards reinterpreting the problems of life as mental health issues that we’re really losing sight of the situation so
at the moment we’re talking about a male suicide crisis and we forget the
fact that if in terms of historical patterns and statistics the reign of
suicide that’s around now is not as a particular historical high it’s quite
normal in terms of the way that the world works it’s it’s a tragedy in every
single instance but we do need a reality check and rather than continually
inflate the problem we have got to ask the question what is it that we’re
talking about? and the reason why I’m so concerned is because by adopting the
language of mental health in this kind of promiscuous way what we’re doing is
we’re almost cultivating a sense of helplessness among young people among
children and youths who kind of grow up by using a psychological
language and who begin to interpret their everyday existence through the
prism of psychology and through that there’s almost like a self-fulfilling
prophecy so that by the time they’re 13 or 14 instead of understanding that the
problems they face are normal problems of childhood they begin to be almost
encouraged to think of it as a pathology as some kind of mental health issue
But we’re hearing increasing evidence that there are a lot of young children are
experiencing situations that are not just growing pains or the normal
situations of childhood are we not? Well we are but then I think you need to
take a step back because it seems to me that children throughout modern times
have always faced bullying the always feels difficult circumstances in China’s
various kinds of problems that sometimes paralyze children in the way they make
their way and in other circumstances we define these as existential issues that
are not the object of mental health intervention but they are to be resolved
in other kinds of ways and I think what we’ve done is we’ve told children at a
very very young age to interpret their lives in such a way that they actually
believed that they got this problem and of course once you begin to see the
problem as that of depression and stress and anxiety or some kind of phobia you
do become ill and that’s the thing that really worries
me were almost creating- I just want to interrupt you there and bring
Karen Goodall back in because I know you you’re a strong advocate of early
intervention aren’t you, what do you make of what Frank Furedi saying there? well I mean I don’t think there are huge numbers of children who have been over diagnosed
with anxiety and depression disorders and I think there’s not a clear cut off between what is a disorder and people who would be slightly
underneath the cutoff for a mental health disorder those people may still
be experiencing high levels of distress and I don’t think we can just turn a
blind eye to children who are reporting with high levels of distress can I ask
you a more, a broader question, if you don’t have money in our society at the moment
what is available to you in terms of help other than months potentially
waiting for an appointment with a counsellor so on is it good enough
the situation that we’re facing at the moment? I mean I don’t think there is
enough money in mental health generally especially for the children
and young people’s mental health services there are long waiting lists
and when children are presenting with high levels of distress that really
isn’t good enough and there needs to be something that happens earlier and for
those children who are experiencing the distress I mean I think there are a lot
of really good third sector organizations which are providing quite
good services but they are not specifically for children who are
diagnosed with disorders but they would help for children who are experiencing
distress and I think this is one of the issues that the Scottish Government has
targeted with their new intervention is treating people compassionately who
present with distress and then being able to sign post them to third sector
organisations that can actually provide a bit of support all right listen we
could talk about this for a long time and I’m sure we’ll come back to it
before much longer but in the meantime Dr Karen Google and Frank Ferretti
thank you very much indeed for your opinions this evening

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