The United Kingdom Public Health Services (NHS) launched a unique experiment ten years ago: matching mental health care with physical health care. They had detected that one in four adults and one in ten children suffer from at least one mental illness, which represents a cost to society of close to 1.4 billion pounds a year. So they decided to solve the problem in an innovative way: provide free therapy to everyone who needs it. Andy Bell, director of the Center for Mental Health and international reference in public policies on mental health, points out that treatments have become routine and there is nothing experimental in offering conversational therapy.

The experimental thing is to have a national program that ensures that before anything happens to you, you will have access to a treatment. He has been progressively successful in covering anxiety and depression, (the most common mental illnesses).

What do the experts think?

Patients suffering from these diseases have access to a general practitioner who, after consulting with them, refers them to a specialist. This expert advises the patient on the type of treatment that suits him best: this can be in person, via the internet or a group therapy, among other alternatives. If someone is in an emergency, there are protocols such as telephone assistance or the possibility of attending the emergency room of a public hospital.This is a milestone for a culture built on stoicism and in which the expression 'stiff upper lip' is still used in reference to the supposed virtue of not showing any feelings in public.

In fact, a survey done last year, as part of the Time to Change campaign, revealed that nine out of ten people with Mental Health Problems suffer discrimination.

What do people think about their mental illness?

Experts believe that people feel distrust towards psychological treatments due to changes in the social attitude towards these issues.

People are beginning to talk more openly about their mental health and the type of treatment they receive, which helps reduce the stigma of psychotherapy, says Cal Strode, a spokesperson for Mental Health, one of 14 NGOs focused on mental health. To that is added the great coverage given to the subject by the national media, among other things thanks to the recent campaigns Time to Talk and Heads Together, the latter driven by the royal family.

At what age does the disease begin?

Half of mental health problems occur before age 14 and 75 percent before age 24. Therefore, psychological care services insist on the importance of early detection and prevention.It is the main cause of mortality for men between 15 and 49 years. Although 28 percent of the suicides occurred among people who had been in contact with mental health services in the 12 months prior to his death, the psychotherapy society believes that this type of care should increase, improving waiting times.