BalanceJuneIssue2017 - 35



nless you've been living off grid
in a remote part of the world
for the past year, you'll have
noticed one subject has been
talked and written about more
than almost any other - even
more than the awesome and
life-changing benefits of smashed
avocados. It is, of course, mental health.
Mental health has never been on the
pub/café/school run/flat white queue/
headline agenda more than it is now.
And mental health problems have never
been so prevalent. 


Self-harming and
avenues for diagnosis and treatment have
mixed-state anxiety and
barely changed in the past 50 years. 
depression disorders are
The big problem here, in my
present in ever greater numbers
opinion, is branding. Mental
in children as young as eight.
health isn't sexy. It isn't
One in four of us will
Young male suicide rates have
cool. It isn't talked about
have mental health
reached a horrendous
honestly. It isn't well
problems at some
all-time high, while
understood. And it isn't
time in our lives, so
remember that you
increasing numbers of
served on sourdough toast
are not alone if
affluent professionals are
with a skinny latte. Most of
you experience
experiencing nervous
all, it isn't allowed to be
breakdowns in their 40s.
funny. At all. In short, it's not
Student waiting lists for mental
something we want anything to do
health care are so long that they often
with. It needs a total re-brand. The good
graduate before receiving any help,
news is that might be about to change. 
while suicide rates among students
are almost too terrifying to comprehend.
Mental health problems are the problem
New websites and apps are springing up
of our time.
to change the way we talk about mental
Despite all the talk, mental health is still
health and the language we use - and to
stagnating in the murky backwaters of
shove a firecracker up the backside of our
misunderstanding, confusion, shame, fear,
lack of empathy and denial. As places to
hang out, these backwaters aren't famed
for their uplifting vibe.

Liz Fraser
is an author, columnist
and broadcaster. She
is also the creator
of the brand new
kick-ass mental health
platform Headcase
She has three children,
a Cambridge degree
in psychology, mild
bipolar disorder
and periods of
deep depression. To
cope, she runs and
drinks coffee.

personality disorder, bipolar tendencies,
suicidal attempts? Good luck getting those
through a first date or job interview.
Many people don't want to go down
traditional routes of mental health care,
for reasons including professional risk
(a perfect illustration of the empathy
problem right there!), not wanting it
on their medical records, and not realising
their problem is serious enough to need
specialist treatment.
None of this is helped by the fact that
we still speak about mental health in
old-fashioned, musty terms and the main

The high-profile public campaigns, adverts
and hashtags we've seen of late have been
brilliant for raising awareness and allowing
people to share their experiences, but there
is still a giant and terrifying chasm between
the experiences of those of us who suffer
with everyday mental health problems and
the way much of society treats us.
Migraines, sciatica, dandruff, cancer,
even weak pelvic floor - you name it, you
can talk about it and you'll get sympathy
and care. But panic disorder, borderline

June 2017

understanding of the most common causes,
symptoms and ways of accessing help. 
One of these is Headcase, which I set
up four months ago as a site and series of
podcasts for people who want their mental
health information served fresh and
Instagram-friendly, with a healthy dose
of humour on the side.
Unashamedly stylish, ballsy and often
very funny, Headcase is just one example
of a platform that's grabbing modern
technology and terminology by the mental
balls and shaking it into the 21st century.
And the key to this, is humour.
Writer and presenter Stephen Fry did
a lovely podcast for Headcase recently, in
which he said that mental health is far too
important not to laugh about. Similarly,


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BalanceJuneIssue2017

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