chapter  2
8 Pages

Mental health and mental illness

In this modern world, people have become more concerned to think in terms of the prevention of mental illness than at any time in the past. Obviously, this is a desirable progression, but because this more positive thinking about mental illness has only just begun to be implemented by action, there is a possibility that the public may be confused by references to ‘mental health’ when, from their point of view, the various services appear to be, and are, caring for the mentally ‘sick.’ It is hardly surprising that, when a section in a local authority health or welfare department is called ‘Department of Mental Health’ but is known to deal mainly with mental illness, the general public will continue to project many of the old stigmata to the new department. Indeed, even in high places, this confusion persists to such an extent that during a recent Mental Health campaign, a member of a local health committee in a television plea for public support, said that there was a need for greater attention to be paid to mental health, because, ‘there are far more people suffering from this complaint than is generally imagined’! Of course, she meant mental illness, but her misapprehension did nothing to clear the general confusion.