Mental health problems continue to be a growing public health concern. The aim of the following paragraphs is to explore the current statistics associated with mental health and it’s impact on adults and children alike and also highlight mental health’s inextricable link with parental alienation.
According to the 2013 Global Burden of Disease study, the predominant mental health problem worldwide was identified as being depression, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder .
Depressive disorders also contribute to the burden of suicide and heart disease on mortality and disability; they both have a direct and an indirect impact on the length and quality of life .
Traumatic experiences were found to be associated with lone households, with households containing a lone adult under the age of 60 and households with no children having the highest rates of traumatic experience (39.2%) and PTSD (10.8%) . With this statistic in mind lets consider Kielty’s 2006 study at the University of East Anglia; Kielty’s study identified that in terms of post separation child custody, 97% of residencies are given to mothers by the family court in the UK.
Suicide and Self Harm
Suicide and self-harm are not viewed as mental health problems. However they are recognised as being actions or behaviours linked to acute mental distress. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in 2014, a total of 6,122 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 10 and older. This rather tragically equates to approximately one death every two hours. Of these suicides, rather alarmingly 75.6% were male and 24.4% were female .
In 2014, suicide was the leading cause of death for men under 50 years of age in England and Wales, and for women aged 20–34. The demographic with the highest suicide rate was men aged 45–59 . Once again, this is not at all surprising; as already stated above 97% of residencies are given to mothers. In my humble opinion, I would argue that it does not take a statistician to argue that there is a correlation between the number of residencies given to mothers and men being more at risk of suicide than women. There are also numerous theories out their that argue that men who live by more masculine ideals, are less likely to seek help, as such men view the seeking of help as a sign of weakness.
Our article The Story of a Great Man and a Great Father who Suffered at the Mercy of an Alienating Parent, illustrates the incredibly tragic toll being an alienated parent can result in.
Challenging the Stigma
Statistics inform us that people with severe mental health problems are much more likely to harm themselves than they are to harm others. In 2013, 1,876 suicides were recorded among mental health inpatients in the UK, compared to 51 homicides .
A recent analysis found that the rate of violence over a four-year period among those with severe mental health problems was 2.88%, compared to 0.83% in the general population. Rather than mental illness causing violence, the two were found to be connected mainly through the accumulation of other risk factors, such as substance abuse and childhood abuse/neglect .
Individuals with mental health problems are more likely to be victims themselves of violence than those individuals without mental health problems .
Children’s and Young People’s Mental Health and Abuse and Neglect
The Mental Health Foundation argues that there is considerable scope for increasing interventions that reduce the incidence of children and young people developing mental health problems .
Poor attachment, neglect, abuse, lack of quality stimulation, conflict and experiencing family breakdown in childhood can negatively affect future social behaviour, educational outcomes, employment status and mental and physical health .
A survey undertaken in 2015 of children attending CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) found that family relationship problems were the single biggest presenting problem .
The Millennium Cohort Study informs us that children’s behavioural problems are strongly associated with the quality of their parents’ relationship .
A plethora of evidence on the impact of abuse during childhood has shown that it increases the risk of most mental health issues. This includes, in no particular order, PTSD, suicide, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, OCD, phobias, substance abuse, eating disorders, and personality disorders .
With this paragraph in mind, it is very alarming that the emotional damage inflicted on children due to the nature of parental alienation continues to be unaddressed. For example Anthony Douglas, CEO of Cafcass publicly acknowledges parental alienation as a form of abuse. However as an organisation, Cafcass fails to disseminate this down to front line staff, in terms of training, etc. And Children’s Social Services within the UK remarkably refuse to recognise parental alienation at all as a form of abuse.
At the other end of the scale, it probably comes as no surprise to anyone that children and young people who have good personal and social relationships with family and friends have higher levels of well-being .
Current available data informs us that there is a clear correlation between being happily married or in a stable relationship and physical and mental health benefits, including lower morbidity and mortality .
Statistics acquired by Relate in 2014 show that more men report having no friends (11%) compared to women (7%), with men having lower satisfaction in their friends than women (73% of men rated their friendships as good or very good, compared to 81% of women) .
Technology has at an astounding speed, become a fundamental part of our modern day-to-day life. As such it is not surprising that people have embraced technology in seeking out advice and ways of managing their mental health. The Aviva Health Check Report conducted in 2015 showed that 63% of those surveyed in the UK utilise the internet when seeking how best to manage a condition or illness, be it physical or mental .
In relation to the above point we now have an Apps Download Page with links to apps that some individuals may find useful in managing their anxiety and depression.
The Financial Cost of Mental Health
According to the Chief Medical Officer’s report from 2013, it was estimated that the wider costs of mental health problems to the UK economy are £70–100 billion per year .
We have come a long way in recent years in bringing the discussion of mental health into the public domain. It is still improving, but as a psychiatric nurse I believe we can do better in normalising and discussing mental health more openly, such as we do with physical health.
Absolutely anyone can be affected by mental health issues. With regards to my own personal circumstances I am an alienated parent, a psychiatric nurse and someone that suffers from depression. And as such I can clearly see from numerous perspectives the correlation between being an alienated parent and the very high risk of experiencing mental health issues.
The discussion and recognition of mental health in the public domain has increased and improved. However there still continues to be no official recognition of parental alienation as a form of abuse, nor any kind of official support for those that are targeted by the abuser. And until such a time, all of us that are effected by parental alienation must continue fighting, while supporting one another.
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel that.” Robin Williams, 1951-2014.
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