People dying from mental illness have increased relative to total deaths in recent years, and mental illness is one of the most significant causes of disability in the general population. In Europe, 8.75% of the total disability rate is disability due to mental illness, while the corresponding rate in the US is 12.5%.

The above points out, citing data from the World Health Organization and the international literature, the family psychotherapist – scientific associate of the Medical School of Athens, Emilia Axiotidou, speaking to APE-MPE, on the occasion of a seminar on the theme: “Mental Health concerns us all”. The conference is organized by the Department of Programs & Lifelong Learning of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, in collaboration with specialized scientists, tomorrow (Tuesday, October 10) – World Mental Health Day (6:00 p.m.), in the Manolis Anagnostakis Hall of the Thessaloniki City Hall.

“Mental health is vital to our overall health, from childhood to adulthood, and it is essential that we show appropriate attention and care as more and more people worldwide are affected by the onset of mental illness. Experiencing a mental illness is not the same as experiencing poor mental health. A person may be diagnosed with a mental illness and still from time to time go through periods of physical and mental well-being and balance, and on the other hand, someone who has not been diagnosed with a mental illness may not have good mental health,” says Ms. Axiotidou.

Mental illness from childhood

Mental illnesses usually, as Ms. Axiotidou points out, begin during childhood or young adulthood and burden the overall health and condition of the person as the course and evolution of the mental illness can often be maintained throughout life. At the same time, he notes that the majority of mental disorders are treatable if the correct and timely psychotherapeutic interventions are carried out.

“People dying from mental illness have increased relative to overall deaths in recent years. About 17% of the population suffers from milder mental disorders, such as anxiety disorders and depressive-type disorders. 25% of patients referred to Primary Health Care require some form of psychiatric care. We also seem to have a corresponding percentage of children who show some mental health problem and need support from specialists. In the US, mental illness is one of the most common health problems. More than 1 in 5 adults live with a mental illness. Also 1 in 5 young people, aged 13 to 18, have experienced a mental illness at some point in their lives. About 1 in 25 adults in the US lives with a diagnosis of a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or major depression or schizophrenia,” adds Ms. Axiotidou.

Research data in Greece

“A new study, carried out with the collaboration of EY Greece, the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology of EKPA and Hellas EAR and in which 329 employees, of all ages, in the public and private sector participated, recorded that the symptoms related to depression intensify , stress and anger” reports Mrs. Axiotidou.

According to the research data: 4 out of 10 workers feel melancholy and 41% feel pessimism about the future (in 2021 the corresponding percentage was 35%). The percentage of people who thought about ending their lives in 2023 also increased, reaching 2% from 1.1% in 2022, while 2 out of 10 have feelings of worthlessness. The percentage of workers showing symptoms of anxiety has increased, so 3 out of 4 feel inner turmoil and nervousness. Also the percentages of those who are in overdrive increased from 40% to 44% and from 8% the percentage of those experiencing panic attacks increased to 10%, 3 out of 10 have outbursts of anger that they cannot control, while displays of anger increased from 70% in 2021 to 75% in 2023. Somatization phenomena were also strong, i.e. the expression of anxiety symptoms through physical symptoms such as headaches.

“Particular emphasis on how the pandemic has affected the mental and physical health of young people was given in the 2022 edition of the report ‘Health at a glance: Europe’ by the OECD and the European Commission” adds Ms Axiotidou.

This report states that although the pandemic has had an impact on the lives of almost everyone, there have been particular concerns for the mental and physical health of millions of young Europeans, whose formative years have been marked by disruptions in their education and social activities. In several European countries, including Belgium, France, Estonia, Norway and Sweden, the proportion of young people reporting depressive symptoms more than doubled during the pandemic, reaching prevalence levels at least twice that of older age groups . Many children and young people also spent significantly less time on physical activity and their eating habits worsened, and there were signs of an increase in childhood overweight and obesity in some countries. Already overstretched mental health services were tested by increasing demand for mental health support, coupled with disruptions to care delivery during the pandemic. Around 50% of young Europeans reported unmet needs for mental health care in spring 2021 and again in spring 2022. Many countries have implemented some measures to protect and care for young people’s mental health, but the magnitude of the impact calls for further action to ensure that the pandemic leaves no lasting scars on this generation.

Mental health concerns us all

The conference with the theme “Mental Health concerns us all” aims to raise public awareness and inform about mental illnesses and the importance of mental health. Specialist scientists will inform the general public about the ways in which we can support people to cope successfully with life’s problems, to be able to participate actively in their social environment, to work productively and to deal with the normal stress of life. The conference talks seek to help change attitudes about mental illness and highlight the importance of early diagnosis, early intervention and treatment, and easy access to mental health services.

As part of the conference, the following will speak: Emilia Axiotidou on the topic “Mental Health concerns us all”, the special educator/animal therapist Eugenia Karaziotis on the topic “Early intervention: how important it is for the development and mental health of children”, the psychiatrist -psychotherapist Panos Koufidis on the topic “The importance of early diagnosis, early intervention and treatment and easy access to mental health services” and mental health, education and career consultant Nancy Pilonas on the topic “Improving your mental health, with simple changes in the way of life”.