Globally, mental health conditions are on the rise. However, with appropriate treatment and management, mental health rates should eventually decline. In light of mental health awareness month, it is worth considering the current state of mental disorders among young people in both the UK and the US.
In the UK, 25% of young people are developing a mental disorder
Between 2017 and 2022, the British Medical Association observed a rise in the rates of likely mental disorders among young individuals aged 7 to 16, from approximately one in eight to over one in six. The rates for individuals aged 17 to 19 increased from one in ten to one in four.
As adverse mental health rates rise, technological advancements in the mental health space are being made. This includes the National Health Service’s (NHS) successful electric headsets that have been trialled for depression, with positive outcomes. The company behind the tech is Swedish-based Flow Neuroscience. The electric headset uses transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to activate certain brain pathways that are otherwise inactive in those with depression. Despite a lack of empirical evidence of how tDCS can be used to treat depression, Flow Neuroscience claims that 88% of depressed patients saw improvements after six weeks of regular periods of use. However, some patients reported that when they did not use the device consistently, they relapsed. In the UK, the NHS has trialled the device and found it to have positive impacts on patients, whereby they were able to come off antidepressants and use the electric headset instead.
In the US, 60% of children with depression do not get treated
While tDCS therapies may not be for everyone, telehealth has proven to be a favoured therapeutic intervention by the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (TCMHCC). According to Mental Health America’s State of Mental Health report published in 2022, more than 60% of children with major depression in the US do not receive any treatment. Even worse, it is predicted that by 2024, the US will be short of 31,000 psychiatrists, while 570 counties in the US have no mental healthcare providers at all.
However, with state-funded charities like TCMHCC on the horizon, the state of child adverse mental health rates is on the mend. TCMHCC aims to reach more than 2000 school districts to spread awareness of telehealth consultations for mental health disorders, while serving around five million students in Texas, by August 2023.
It is important to understand there are accessible therapies
The good news is that despite mental health rates being on the rise, there are several ways to help manage them. For those in the UK, this includes contacting your local GP and asking for a therapy referral. This can be for group therapy, face-to-face therapy, mHealth apps, or even telehealth consultations. Alternatively, for urgent situations, there are charities including Samaritans (telephone number: 116123) and Papyrus (telephone number 0800 068 4141), whose lines are open 24 hours a day.