Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and yet mental health disorders are often left untreated. In the United States alone, one in five adults suffer from a mental health disorder, but only 41% of those adults receive treatment.

Illustration of a person with flowers on their mind

Mental health disorders can range from mild to severe and include conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Mental health disorders can lead to problems with work, school, and personal relationships.

Left untreated, mental health disorders can have serious consequences, including substance abuse and self-harm. Mental health disorders can also lead to homelessness, joblessness, and financial instability.

The good news is that mental health disorders are treatable. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most people with mental health disorders can lead happy, healthy, and productive lives.

A Global Problem

Quantifying the full extent of mental health in the global population is extremely difficult. However, best estimates suggest that one in seven people suffers from a mental health disorder.

ConditionUKUSAWorldwide
General Mental Health12 Million50 Million1.1 Billion
Depression9 Million45 Million300 Million
Anxiety6 Million30 Million275 Million
IBS/Disorders of Gut-Brain Interactions12/21 Million 45/120 Million 500/1400 Million
*Employee Wellbeing App (eg. Burnout, etc)32.5 Million157.5 Million
**Schools and Universities (eg. ExamExcel App)13 Million36.2 Million
Prevalence of mental health issues in the UK, USA and Worldwide
** UK employee stress ***UK Student numbers 

MindLife is particularly interested in the mental disorders of anxiety and depression, which affect respectively about 9% and 13% of the UK and US population; and mind-body conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other Disorders of Gut-Brain Interactions (DGBI), which affect twice as many in each country and up to one in six people worldwide. MindLife also has specific projects on stress-related illnesses that affect the workplace (such as burnout) and the student population (exam stress).

Debilitating disorders

Depression

Depression is a major global health problem, affecting the lives of millions and societies as a whole.

Depression is more than feeling unhappy or fed up from time to time. It’s a serious medical condition that causes feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy. When you’re depressed, you feel persistently sad for weeks or months rather than just a few days.

Depression can lead to physical problems, too. It can make you feel exhausted and make it hard to concentrate on things or make decisions. There are different types of depression, and it’s essential to seek professional help if you think you might be depressed.

Current depression diagnosis is relatively rudimentary, resulting in a heterogeneous group of patients with the same diagnosis. Notably, available psychological treatments are effective on average, but it’s unclear mainly which treatment works best for whom.


Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal emotion we all experience at once or another. It is the feeling of worry, fear, or unease. We may feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or when making an important decision.

Anxiety is a normal response to a potentially stressful situation and can be beneficial in some situations. It can motivate us to take action and help us to stay alert and focused. However, when anxiety becomes excessive, it can interfere with our daily lives.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders in the United States. An estimated 30 million adults suffer from an anxiety disorder in any given year. Many types of anxiety disorders exist, including generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias. Symptoms of anxiety disorders can include feeling restless, tense, or nervous; having a hard time concentrating; feeling like your mind is going blank, and having a hard time sleeping. If you are experiencing anxiety symptoms, you must talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

Anxiety is diagnosed similarly to depression and may result in psychological treatments that are effective for some and not effective for others.

For both anxiety and depression, clinicians have pharmacological options available, which may treat the symptoms of these mental health conditions but do not address the underlying causes or effect a cure.


Mind-Body Conditions with Medically Unexplained Symptoms

Mind-body conditions are a group of conditions that involve both the mind and body. While there has been a great deal of advancement in understanding mind-body interactions over recent years, some conditions have medically unexplained symptoms. These include chronic pain disorder (fibromyalgia), chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis), and Disorders of Gut-Brain Interactions (DGBI), which includes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These conditions often have overlapping symptoms, making them difficult to diagnose.

While the exact cause of mind-body conditions is unknown, research suggests that they are likely due to a combination of factors, including genetic predisposition, psychological stress, and physical trauma.

Mind-body conditions can be debilitating and significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Treatment for these conditions typically focuses on symptom management and may include lifestyle changes, psychological therapy, and medication.

Making Mental Health Personal

MindLife is collaborating with well-being experts, including Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown who developed the WEMWBS (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scales) to address the deficiencies of existing mental health scales (e.g. GAD-7 for anxiety and PHQ-9 for depression) which focus only on symptoms. Professor Stewart-Brown was motivated to develop this scale having recognised that existing scales failed to capture well-being and were inadequate for providing appropriate measures and recognition of interventions which improved wellbeing.