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Prevention or cure

With the increasing awareness that the only way to reduce the cost of healthcare is to improve the way we treat our bodies, the equivalent approach to mental health seems to be lagging behind.  Sure we have introduced mindfulness and yoga into some schools and workplaces, yet still most of my clients with mental health issues face unmanageable stress in both areas.  I want to take a moment to discuss why I have created The Imaginators Programme.

The Mental Health Foundation publishes information about the state of mental health in the UK within a context of a worldwide problem.  These statistics demonstrate beyond any shadow of doubt that something has gone wrong.

20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year.1
50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.2 
10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem3, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.4
Mental health problems constitute the largest single source of world economic burden, with an estimated global cost of £1.6 trillion - greater than cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes on their own.
Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.1
Mental health and behavioural problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and drug use) are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20 to 29-year-olds.2
Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.3
It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem4
And yet, the focus is on curing a worldwide epidemic of mental ill health rather than finding ways to prevent it.  For all of us hypnotherapists, counsellors and mental health workers the constant supply of clients keeps our practices booming, but perhaps we could be using our skills to prevent problems rather than treat them.

There is no strong evidence to support chemical causes for mental illness such as anxiety and depression, although dopamine and serotonin do seem to be present in higher levels in people experiencing happiness, and yet prescriptions for 64.7m items of antidepressants – an all-time high – were dispensed in England in 2016, the most recent annual data from NHS Digital showed. That was 3.7m more than the 61m items dispensed during 2015.  Anti-depressants are the most popularly prescribed drug in the USA and a report from the National Centre for Health Statistics shows that from 2011 through 2014, close to 13% of people 12 and older said they took an antidepressant in the last month.

Unfavourable social, economic and environmental circumstances contribute to mental ill health, however work by Martin Seligman and his team at The University of Pennsylvania suggests there may be little connection between this and an individual’s perceived level of happiness.  In my practice most of the clients I meet are blessed with all the trappings of socio-economic success but a large proportion of them are taking prescribed medication for depression and anxiety. 

We also have a tendency to treat our minds and bodies as separate entities! At some point in every programme of treatment, I demonstrate how our mindset affects the functionality of our body – think bad and you weaken your body, but lock onto better thought patterns and the body is strong.

So, what do we do?  How about we start to inoculate against the effects of stress, after all we have a culture of inoculation against everything else!  Stress isn’t going away from our lives anytime soon, so we need to learn to live more comfortably with it.

That is why I am so passionate about the Imaginators Programme.  It enables clients of all ages to take control and manage the onslaught the world throws at us in an easily accessible way.

The Imaginators Programme is a 7 module online training course which launches on 23rd April 2017. Follow the link to sign up for more information.


 1WHO (2003). Caring for children and adolescents with mental disorders: Setting WHO directions. [online] Geneva: World Health Organization. Available at: [Accessed 14 Sep. 2015].
 2Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. (2005). Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62 (6) pp. 593-602. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.593.
 3Green,H., Mcginnity, A., Meltzer, Ford, T., Goodman,R. 2005 Mental Health of Children and Young People in Great Britain: 2004. Office for National Statistics.
 4Children’s Society (2008) The Good Childhood Inquiry: health research evidence. London: Children’s Society.
 Vos, T., et al. (2013) Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. The Lancet. 386 (9995). pp. 743-800.
 Lozano, R. et al. (2012) Global and regional mortality from 235 causes of death for 20 age groups in 1990 and 2010. a systematic analysis for the global burden of disease study 2010. The Lancet. 380(9859), pp. 2095–2128.
 Whiteford, H. A. et al. (2013) Global burden of disease attributable to mental and substance use disorders: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet. 382 (9904). pp. 1575-1586.
 McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016) Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital. Available at: [Accesed 5 October 2016]

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