As Mental Health Awareness Week draws to a close, it’s interesting to see what earlier issues of the “Friend” had to say about the subject.
These days, our health pages have lots of useful tips and advice about mental well-being and what happens when things go wrong.
There wasn’t quite so much in our parents’ generation, perhaps, but here’s what the “Friend” doctor had to say in 1966.
It’s Not The End Of The World!
You know, it’s amazing the number of people who think it’s the end of the world if either they, or any of their family, have to go into hospital to get treatment for a mental illness. In fact, there should be no more stigma attached to this than to an ordinary trip to the doctor’s.
Folk often imagine that a nervous breakdown or any mental illness is a sudden, dramatic thing. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It comes on slowly, over a long period. In the early stage, you hardly notice it. But there are warnings.
One is when you become absent-minded, although you’re still apparently a healthy young woman. Another is when you’re on heckle pins. Or if you’re off your sleep and lie twisting and turning.
These needn’t mean you’re in for a nervous breakdown, but they are a sign the nerves are under a strain.
Strangely enough, one of the most important signs is when you stop worrying and adopt a “couldn’t-care-less” attitude.
Things like these mean little in themselves, but they could mean trouble if they’re allowed to go on and on.
Don’t imagine that it’s only the highly-strung folk who suffer. The quiet, thoughtful woman can be a victim, too. Even young folk between twenty-five and thirty-five suffer just as much as anyone nowadays, though the worst time for both men and women is between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-five.
The real cause of the present increase in mental illness lies in the life we lead today. The pace is much too quick, there is too much hire-purchase, too much keeping up with the Joneses. None of these things gives us the simple contentment that our parents had.
With help and understanding, mental illness can be cured, and the victim get over it just as you or I would a bout of flu. The real cure, however, for all of us, lies in the life we lead and the way in which we live it.
It’s good to talk
Medical thinking has moved on since then. Isn’t it interesting, though, that the “Doc” thinks the pace of life in 1966 is the main problem?
If we look at older copies of the “Friend”, we see that problems with “nerves” were not new. Advertisements for tonics and reader’s requests for advice for nervous complaints appear from the earliest issues.
Mental ill-health has always been with us, but it’s not always been easy to talk about – as the “Doc” says.
But while the words we use to describe it may change over time, our willingness to talk about mental health seems to be changing — and that’s a healthy change in itself.