POST 1 // Creating a Data Set using Secondary Sources
By Eugenie Park
In each year, approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness. Despite this, not much is known about mental health nor is it openly talked about.
Mental Health is an issue that is of growing concern whether it effects you directly or indirectly through a close family member or friend. I have chosen to research into this topic as I want help spread awareness, and to do this I must first learn about and understand the issue.
The War Within: Why are our returned soldiers killing themselves? – Ruth Lamperd
Ruth Lamperd is an Award-winning journalist that is currently the Senior Journalist at the Herald and Weekly Times. Lamperd has written many controversial articles, some that contain months of investigation and research. This article in particular addresses the suicide death of military service men due to mental health issues and the hardships faced by the families left behind.
Lamperd has undergone extensive investigation for the article interviewing countless ex-military families, gathering stories and statistics, in order that she may bring greater awareness about the mental illness’ ex-military individuals face and the families that have to deal with the hardships.
This article has been well researched and embodies Lamperd’s surprise and dismay with her findings. She highlights the lack of support from the Australian Defence Force and Department of Veterans’ Affairs, despite the alarming number of deaths to suicide.
Mental Illness is More Than Just Depression and Anxiety – Emily Reynolds
Emily Reynolds is a freelance journalist that has written for Huck Magazine, New York Magazine, Wired UK and VICE. Mental health is an issue that she regularly writes about, and is currently working on her first book called ‘A Beginners Guide to Losing Your Mind’, which is an exploration of mental illness from a personal account of what it is like to live with poor mental health as well as a guide to dealing with and understanding it. This specific article deals with the stigma of mental health and the more ignored mental illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia.
Reynold has first hand experience with mental illness and so when reading her articles, I could see her passion to bring awareness to all aspects of mental health. She states within the article ‘It helps to talk’ and that is exactly what she is doing; talking about the more silent issue of psychosis. Event though she may not be a doctor or a psychologist, her own mental health issues, makes her an expert; she is able to draw upon her own experiences and give advice and guidance.
The article is well researched as she incorporates statistics and studies and logically draws that the media is the reason why psychosis is perceived with such negativity. I agree with the Reynolds, as crimes and mass killings are blamed on individuals suffering from psychosis.
The Key to Effectively Treating Mental Illness: Eliminate the Stigma – Mike Billings
Mike Billings is the managing editor for UCSF’s main web and social media channels. He has previously worked at Dow Jones as an editor covering the venture-capital industry. Many of his articles cover issues and research to do with health and science. This particular article discusses the stigma behind mental illness and how it effects those seeking help and treatment.
Billings has written this article to highlight the negative impact of self-stigmatisation due to societies views on mental illness. Self-stigmatisation in individuals leads to ineffective treatment as patients do not engage themselves in the treatment and therefore their symptoms are not treated. Alongside this the shortage of mental health exacerbates the issue.
Although Billings may not be an expert in psychology or mental health, I do agree with his opinion that more needs to be done about the patients not seeking help with their mental illness and the poor mental health system. Billing’s opinions are backed by individuals with first-hand experience of the system. Policy changes, better understanding and humanisation of the illness are some actions that can remove the stigma around mental illness.
The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness – Maria Popova
Maria Popova is a writer, blogger and critic known for her blog BrainPickings.org. She reads multiple pieces of writing a day and then features the best on the website, covering culture, books and eclectic subjects off and on the internet. She has also written for The Atlantic, Wired UK, Good Magazine and The Huffington Post. This article discusses the book ‘The Creating Brain’ written by Nancy Andreasen.
Popova has stated that she aims to publish material that is meaningful and timeless. Although not being an expert in mental health, she has written several posts on the topic and due to her knowledge on a wide range of issues, she is able to compare writings and highlight key issues.
Popova deconstructs Andreasen’s work, discussing ideas that she finds interesting, which could in turn be biased as she selectively includes elements of the book. However, the writings of Andreasen are factual as she undertakes a study to determine whether creatives suffer from mental illness. With the help of first person interviews (which was a crucial point of differentiation from other studies) she was able to analyse the findings and conclude that the subjects were creative despite their illnesses.
New Study Claims to Find Genetic Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness – Ian Sample
Ian Sample is a science editor at the Guardian. He has previously worked as a journalist at New Scientist as well as the Institute of Physics as a journal editor. Sample has written numerous articles on health and science and has a PhD in biomedical materials from the University of London.
Sample has written this article to after a study by deCODE, a genetics company based in Reykjavik, found that those who are creative are on average, 25% more likely to carry the genetic factors that raise the risk of mental illness. This articles is based on facts, as it recounts details of the study that was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
However, Sample also includes the opinions of Albert Rothenberg, a professor of Psychiartry at Harvard University, who states that there is no good evidence between the two. Sample writes both of positions, giving examples that support both sides of the argument. I agree with Sample in that the link between the two, mental illness and creativity, is more complex than yes or no.
From reading these articles, I found that a lot of the issues were linked together. I think it would be interesting to look further into:
- Mental illness and its stigma within society which leads to a lack of awareness
- The importance of early intervention and support groups in treating mental illness to reduce the rate of suicide
- Whether there is a relationship between creativity and mental illness and why.
Billings, M. 2016, “The Key to Effectively Treating Mental Illness: Eliminate the Stigma,” UCSF, 9 August, viewed 14 August 2016
Correll, G. 2016 “#Mentalillnessfeelslike”, Pinterest, viewed 14 August 2016 <https://au.pinterest.com/pin/253609022745942799/>
Lamperd, R. 2016, “The War Within: Why are our returned soldiers killing themselves?”, The Sunday Herald Sun, 13 Aug, viewed 14 August 2016
Popova, M. 2014, “The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness”, Brain Pickings, 21 July, viewed 14 August 2016
Reynolds, E. 2016, “Mental Illness is More Than Just Depression and Anxiety”, The New York Magazine, 12 Aug, viewed 14 August 2016
Sample, I. 2015, “New Study Claims to Find Genetic Link Between Creativity and Mental Illness”, The Guardian, 9 June, viewed August 2016