In our Trend Report 2023 ‘Wellbeing&Sustainability’, we draw a roadmap for companies towards a successful and sustainable future. Trend watcher Herman Konings draws that future into the present with this blog series, using some notable international trends.
In this blog: A glimpse of the future of mental health care.
As the anxiety levels are rising and as adolescents are growing more and more conscious of the pervasive nature of mental health issues, a culture of openness about these issues is developing. In the last ten years, anxiety has surpassed depression as the most frequently occurring reason students appeal to mental health services across the globe. Girl Up, a UN organisation that interviewed over 3.500 girls in seven countries, discovered that no less than three-fourths of girls want a more open dialogue about mental health. Celebrities such as Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber and Simone Biles, who all have opened up about their demons in public, stimulate this development.
Previous generations dealt with mental health by ignoring the issue and allowing taboos to dictate policy (and treatment). Today, however, teenagers share their stories online and set up organisations to address these issues. In Asia, where taboos are reinforced still, young people are setting up communities that aim to bring dreary thinking out of the damned corner. Yamikawaii is a Japanese subculture that uses a ‘sickly fun’ aesthetic – including syringes, pills and bondage equipment – with the intention of talking about emotional distress. In China, we see something similar with introverted teenagers: they deeply relate to a Finnish cartoon character, Matti, who blushes a lot and is awkward in social situations. . He has trouble praising himself, is not good at small talk and somewhat afraid of sitting next to someone on the bus. Matti is the unassuming main character in Karoliina Korhonen’s cartoon Finnish Nightmares. The character stereotypes Finns, but has won many hearts among introverts in Finland, but also – again thanks to the worldwide web – in China. Matti has even inspired a new term in Mandarin: ‘jingfen’ (精芬), meaning ‘spiritually Finnish’.
Long waiting lists
Youth psychiatry departments all over the country, as well as adolescent and student psychologists, report longer, unprecedented waiting lists. Indeed, from the Flemish Association of Clinical Psychologists in 2021 came the ominous news that more and more Flemish psychotherapists were forced to close their waiting lists, which, in other words, meant that the last admitted applicants for help had to wait about a year for an intake interview! In our country, the mental health professional has to deal with heavy blows due to covid. The trepidation has been dispelled by the need, with the result that many people can only conclude – and are quite willing to share with the rest of the world – that this courageous step into mental health care was not that bad. That it is nothing to be ashamed of! As a result of the crisis, mental health professionals have thus been overwhelmed, which has been frequently reported and explained by the media, which in turn makes professional psychological assistance even more fluently less special and exceptional.
What also helps is that a lot of top athletes in recent years also (want to) attribute their successes in part to sports psychologists and mental coaching. Even on television, reality and dating shows increasingly feature a band of psychologists, which also benefits the professional mental health sector (and thus society’s mental well-being). All in all, it can be proudly reported that the mental health sector is on the rise, both in terms of the number of requests and applicants for help and the number of applications for professional training in clinical psychology and psychiatry.