How the U.K Views Mental Illness

The U.K has a very diverse view on mental health. Some people believe it’s a serious problem and needs more funding and staff to help people. Others believe this to be untrue and don’t view it as a serious problem. I wanted to know if this was a generational divide or simply people’s opinions regardless of age. This is my second article covering this subject. Previously, I interviewed the Greatest Generation (born before the end of WW2) to find out their opinions on mental health in the U.K.

In this article, I’m interviewing the generation that followed them – Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers were born between 1946-1964. Post-war Britain was littered with returning soldiers laden with many mental health problems that hadn’t been recognised yet. ‘Shell Shock’, the earlier term for post-traumatic stress disorder, is a perfect example of this. Given that people were suffering during this time, I wanted to know if the increase in sufferers furthered the conversation on mental health.

Had you ever heard the phrase ‘mental health problem’ growing up?

Andrew Osborne, 54 – Not so much while I was growing up. It seems to me to be recognised more nowadays.

Kirsteen Keen, 57 – No, not very often. It had to be a serious issue.

How was being mentally ill viewed when you were growing up?

Andrew – I can’t really say I ever remember much conversation about it, it was just hushed up. You didn’t really come across it that often. It was recognised as something being ‘wrong’ and then you were encouraged to stay away from the person.

Kirsteen – It revolves around it being a serious issue for it to be spoken about. Anxiety was seen as something to just get over.

Was there any help available for people who were ill in your generation?  

Andrew – I don’t know is the honest answer. I never needed any help for my mental health or knew of anybody that did. I suppose it wasn’t really talked about. So any help that was given wasn’t talked about either.

Kirsteen – Only when it was serious issue, such as severe depression.

Has your opinion on mental health changed in recent years?

Andrew – Probably. I suppose people are more aware that it is an illness rather than people being lazy or just not wanting to do something. When I was younger, there was a lot of ‘just get on with it’. And now it’s come as more of a realisation that they can’t ‘get on with it’, and they need help.

Kirsteen – Yes. I have accepted that it is a wider issue and affects more people than I previously thought.

Do you feel more comfortable talking about emotions and mental health in the 21st century?

Andrew – My opinions of talking about mental health and emotions haven’t changed.

Kirsteen – Yes, it’s no longer social taboo. And seen as a more ‘normal’ thing to do.

Do you think talking about mental health more has helped people better understand it?

Andrew – The people it affects, yeah. I’m of the opinion that I’ll try and find out about something if it affects me and, fortunately, I’ve never been affected by a mental illness.

Kirsteen – Yes, the more you talk about it, the more people are educated.

It seems clear from these responses that from the Greatest Generation to the Baby Boomers hasn’t progressed much on the topic of mental health. However, the people of that generation have evolved their opinions to a more forward-thinking way.

Featured image by Thomas Hafeneth on Unsplash

First image by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Last image by Simon Wijers on Unsplash


Edited by Viveca Shearin

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