Mental health is fast overtaking many of society's big killer physical diseases. Stress and anxiety related issues plague our youth, and the fear of dementia in our later years dominates the political and social care agenda. Yet solutions can be found in healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices.
We can change the agenda, by focusing on prevention rather than cure
Mental health is an ever-growing burden on society, with no quick fixes coming from government on how to tackle the sheer scale of the problem, given a backdrop of national austerity. Healthcare budgets continue to be squeezed, despite the political rhetoric and top of the hour speeches from soundbite politicians. What frustrates us, functional medicine doctors and our colleagues in natural health, is how little media attention is given to prevention. Granted, we have an aging society, are living longer and social care will become an increasingly tough nut to crack for any government in power. In our experience as clinicians and health professionals, healthier lifestyle choices can prevent at least some people who end up with illnesses of the brain from developing into full-blown disease.
In our opinion the debate should shift and the agenda changed so that funding is set aside for nutrition and lifestyle education at a much earlier age, and more programmes in prime-time slots like the BBC's 'Doctor in the House' series, featuring functional medicine-trained NHS GP Dr Rangan Chatterjee.
Supporting Frazzled Cafe
Profit From Your Health is proud to support the Ruby Wax-led initiative Frazzled Cafe, which Ruby founded following her successful 2016 show 'Sane New World', which unusually featured Q&A-style interaction with audience members at the end. It was here that Ruby identified the urgency for a place to where people could connect with peer-to-peer support to help cope with the overwhelming stresses of modern life.
Adele went to one of Ruby's shows in February 2016 and asked why there was no mention in her show or questions from the audience about food and nutrition, without which we can't make our neurotransmitters in the first place – the building blocks of which are made from quality protein. Ruby acknowledged, and said of course diet plays a hugely important role in mental health, but that it's too big a subject on its own to cover in her show. Fair point. After the show when Adele met Ruby for the first time she invited her to attend her workshop to discuss in more detail the issues and her plans to create "walk-in centres" around the UK. Adele's article "Time for joined-up thinking in mental health?" features coverage from this event, where Ruby said: "The social care ‘safety net’ doesn’t exist, and people are falling through the cracks." It was clear from the day's proceedings that she was on a mission. We all heard many distressing stories from people overwhelmed with life and struggling with health challenges categorised as 'mental health' issues – too scared to be open to employers especially for fear of being stigmatised. Yet one in four of us will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in our lives.
After a year of pilots and focus groups, on March 14th, 2017 Frazzled Cafe officially launched, supported by Marks & Spencer. Here people struggling with the stresses of everyday life will find an anonymous and non-judgemental environment where they can meet on a regular basis to talk and share their personal stories.
Frazzled Cafe is now up and running with fortnightly meetings in London, Brighton and Cambridge. More openings are planned in Leeds, Canterbury, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham and Staffordshire over the coming year. Adele is planning to be involved in the Brighton initiative.
Frazzled Cafe is now an official charity, with Ruby Wax as its patron.
A powerful image drawn by a patient on the wall of Hawthorne House Day Centre in Leeds. Hawthorne is the only mental health crisis centre left in the district where people suffering from severe anxiety and depression through to acute psychosis, can go without being detained. It's such a wonderful place and offers so many community programmes to give people confidence and the will to embrace life again. Let's hope that Frazzled Cafe can help support people who Ruby rightly flags are "falling through the cracks" after so many centres like Hawthorne face closure – or have already closed.