There has been a great deal of madness around the treatment of the mentally ill.
Once upon a time, archaic surgeons would treat a simple headache with a drill bit to the top of the cranium. But really you need one of those like you need a hole in the head.
More recently the world of psychiatry has made headlines with experimental treatments, all the way from music therapy to taking LSD.
But as we learn more about mental illness, we are beginning to accept that depression, anxiety, and a whole range of conditions affect a huge number of us.
Cognitive behavioural therapist Marie Scott, 40, of Church Walk, Eastwood, says a huge part of this has been tackling the stigma that a mental illness somehow makes you strange.
She adds: “We see mental illness very differently now and it changes as we go forward.
“More people are coming forward as we lessen the stigma. “The general public perception is now starting to be more like any other kind of illness – like having a cold or any long-term condition, it doesn’t signify some moral failing, you just develop an illness and you need to find some way of getting through it.”
A mum of two, Marie has been a therapist for the past year.
“I used to be in IT but looked to retrain after I had my son. I’ve always been interested in people and I’m very passionate about self improvement as self development,” adds Marie, who is also a graduate in sociology and spent several years working for Childline’s listening service.
“I’ve been through some issues myself, and it gives you the interest and the ability to empathise.”
So becoming a therapist was a natural move for her, and what appeals to a lot of people is it’s practicality.
“CBT posits that it’s the way you think about a situation that actually creates the feelings and behaviour that follow on from it, and your thinking processes create your mental state. If you’re feeling anxious then you may be seeing things around you as dangerous – so just going to the shops might feel like a risky thing to do.
“Your thought processes will be telling you how dangerous it could be, and that will affect the way you feel and the way you behave.”
And CBT is a more practical “talking cure” than psychotherapy, she says.
“You don’t sit there and go back to your childhood and delve into your subconscious, it’s about the here and now and going into the future,” she said.
“Knowing about where a problem started doesn’t necessarily change your behaviour.
“Of course there are many people where this is useful, so if you have a deep-seated trauma. But for most people they just need to focus on the present.”
The importance of treating mental illness has been highlighted this week with a new report from the Department of Work and Pensions, showing that mental illnesses, including phobias and nervous disorders like depression and anxiety, are the biggest single cause of disability among working-age people. They account for over 1.5 million disabled people and 75,000 more people were out of work because of mental illness in the past year than compared to 2013.
This is met by a fresh report released on Wednesday, March 4 from an all party parliamentary group for mental illness, which found that provision by the NHS has been “unacceptably poor”.
Vice-chair of the group, MP Gloria De Piero, said: “Anyone can develop mental health problems no matter what their age or background and every year one in four people will experience a mental health problem.
“So, it is shocking that people with severe mental health problems die on average 20 years earlier than the general population because their physical health needs are not addressed.”
But there may still be inherent problems with treatment as doctors continue to label conditions, continues Marie.
“We have an issue with things like the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), labelling disorders as collections of symptoms, but that doesn’t take into account people as individuals.
Some people don’t necessarily fit these label but are a bit stuck in life – my experience of depression might be very different to yours and sometimes we go too far in symptomising everything. We don’t always fit into that pattern.”