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Brady Smith

Technology flourishes while mental health research stagnates

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Brady Smith from 1907 foundation, a charity that funds research for mental health, explains why mental health treatment has progressed so slowly. 

I married a medical practitioner which 99.9 per cent of the time is a real blessing. She says I’m a bad patient, but it’s in my nature; I like to ask questions.

For instance, how come when someone tells us or shows us that they are in physical pain we immediately accept that they are hurt, but if that same person struggles with chronic depression, many of us refuse to recognise its medical validity as an issue?

The decades-long battle to treat mental illness has progressed at the speed of a maple syrup tap; inexcusably slow.

Consider this: John Cade is credited with first using lithium as a treatment for mental disorders in 1948. Nearly 75 years later and the International Journal of Bipolar Disorders concluded that ‘lithium continues as the standard and most extensively evaluated treatment for bipolar disorder.’

Meanwhile, in that same year, the world’s first electronic digital computer,The Manchester Baby, successfully executed its first program.  

How is it that we’ve gone 75 years with so much technological progress but we still have no answers to addressing mental illness? We address symptoms as if they are the be-all and end-all. Depression is a symptom, not an illness in and of itself. The brain is understandable and it should be our goal to discover the underlying causes of mental illness. 

People have been campaigning to break down the stigma of mental health for many years, but that’s just the beginning. In order to eliminate a stigma completely, we need to have a thorough understanding of the subject matter. To understand mental illness, we have to understand the brain.

Noam Shpancer, PhD, professor of psychology at Otterbein University said:“Mental health is not a destination but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going. The therapist is like a driving instructor, not a chauffeur.”

So what happens when the car breaks down?

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