Have we created the mental health ‘crisis’?

IN MEDICINE today, the epidemic is not enough (remember the obesity and diabetes epidemics?). We now must have crises. Hence the obesity crisis and the current flavour of the month – the mental health crisis.

Crises are good for lobbying politicians, and so the mental health crisis has resulted in a big spend on an assortment of programs that involve just about everyone except GPs, who in the spendathon have actually seen a reduction in rebates for preparing those mental health plans.

The figures are impressive. One in five Australians has a mental illness of some form and two-thirds of them do not receive treatment. An estimated one million adults suffer depression.

Here are some questions, though. Who defines where a bad hair day stops and a mental health illness starts? On what basis are we assuming that all the people who do not receive treatment actually need it? And why is it that, given the explosion in use of psychotropic medications