• Question: What do you feel has been the most important breakthrough within the mental health section to science?

    Asked by beep353bat to Robert, Olly, Nicola, Jasmin, Dennis, Caroline on 15 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Caroline Brett

      Caroline Brett answered on 15 Jun 2019:


      I don’t think there has been any one breakthrough that has made the difference within mental health, but certainly there have been some important smaller breakthroughs that have made a difference to our understanding and treatment of mental health. The development of brain imaging techniques helped our understanding of the human brain and how it works. The discovery of anti-depressant drugs and the development of cognitive therapy revolutionised how we treat depression and other mental health conditions. We’ve come a long way since the days of lobotomies and institutionalisation but there is still a lot to learn!

    • Photo: Dennis Relojo-Howell

      Dennis Relojo-Howell answered on 15 Jun 2019:


      I’ll be a bit biased. 🙂 I’d say digital technology. I’m a mental health blogger. I’d say the internet has allowed to create conversations about mental health. Also, there are now mental health apps. (https://www.nhs.uk/apps-library/category/mental-health/). Thirty years ago, digital technology was not yet available. So it’ll be exciting to see what else we’ll see in the future about digital technology and mental health. But of course, it also digital technology that is responsible to mental health issues. For example, the effect of social media.

    • Photo: Nicola Johnstone

      Nicola Johnstone answered on 16 Jun 2019:


      For me this is understanding the links between physical and mental health in society. The people around you shape who you are and how you live and have a big impact on you health.

    • Photo: Robert Dempsey

      Robert Dempsey answered on 17 Jun 2019:


      For me, it is change to viewing mental health as lying on a continuum (where we are all located) rather than seeing mental health issues as being ‘abnormal’. This change is still on-going and a lot of people still view mental health diagnoses as abnormal and the potential stigma this may put on those who are struggling with their mental health. There’s also a move away from just focusing on a diagnosis (e.g. schizophrenia) towards viewing the different symptoms someone is experiencing (a more ‘symptom-focused’ approach), which I think will help to put the focus on the person and not the diagnostic label.

      In terms of research, technology and computing power is definitely making a massive impact. It is much easier (and quicker) to run complex statistics on a computer which means we can model very complex relationships between the factors which lead to good/poor mental health. Brain imaging technologies have improved radically which means we can better understand the potential brain-based nature of mental health experiences.

    • Photo: Jasmin Moon

      Jasmin Moon answered on 17 Jun 2019:


      This isn’t necessarily a ‘breakthrough’ but the fairly recent inclusion of mindfulness and relaxation techniques in mental health treatment is something I see as an important development.
      Previously, treatment and therapy was about trying to change how we think and feel, however, things have moved to more of an acceptance that mental health can change a lot within a person and sometimes we just need to understand and accept the way we are feeling and try to focus on the present moment rather than dissecting everything that’s going on in our mind. There are lots of mindfulness videos on YouTube if you are interested in finding out more.

    • Photo: Oliver Clabburn

      Oliver Clabburn answered on 17 Jun 2019:


      I think the recent (perhaps not to recent) shift in acceptance and ability to talk about mental health. While there is still an element of taboo about mental health, it’s certainly better than it once was.

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