The mental health in the workplace is in crisis. Yet most people, even clinicians, don’t understand the depth of the problem. Here, we briefly reveal some problems in current approaches.
1. Overreliance on Medications to Treat Anxiety and Depression
Few people have problems acknowledging that, as a society, we are over medicated. Yet, most of us expect to walk out of the doctor’s office with at least one prescription. When it comes to mental health, that’s not a good idea. The evidence shows so called anti anxiety medications and anti depressants do not have better results than placebos for mild to moderate anxiety and depression and just slightly better than placebos for severe depression. We do know, however, that all these medications can have serious side effects, not just on physical health, but on mental health too. There’s increasing evidence that antipsychiatric medications can cause the very same pathology they were meant to treat. In fact for some medications, suicidal thoughts is listed as a side effect. Go figure!
2. Poor Explanations for Mental Health Problems
It’s usually agreed upon that how well you define a problem is key to resolving a problem. In the same vein, how we explain mental health problems determines what we’ll use as treatment. Hence, a bad explanation of why I have mental health problem results in bad, or inappropriate treatment. With a move to pathologising mental health problems across the world, we are reducing the importance, as societies, of other better or equally effective treatments; many without side effects.
3. Bad Science
There are some theories floating in the mental health space that are being accepted as factual. These theories have not been validated and should not be used as fact to treat mental health problems. For example, the theory that mental health problems stem from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Most people believe that this is fact, because it has been presented that way. But in fact, it’s just one of the theories out there. When someone says they have been feeling anxious or down, there is no way to test whether they have a chemical imbalance in the brain. And even if we could, and we did find a chemical imbalance, we couldn’t know if it caused the emotions, or if it was an effect of the emotions. Its not as simple as is being presented.
In mental health, it pays to get a second opinion.