The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

15 March 2010

Are you mentally ill?

Mental illness seems to be increasing… at least according to the American Psychiatric Association which keeps finding new conditions which it compiles in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disease.

The first edition of this manual in 1952 extended to 130 pages and listed 106 disorders.
The second edition of this manual in 1968 extended to 134 pages and listed 182 disorders.
The third edition of this manual in 1980 extended to 494 pages and listed 265 disorders.
The fourth edition of this manual in 1987 extended to 562 pages and listed 290 disorders.
The fifth edition of this manual in 1994 extended to 886 pages and listed 297 disorders.
This was updated in 2000 and the next edition is planned for 2013.

Noteworthy is the fact that the earliest editions had homosexuality as a disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder was only recognised as a disorder in the 1994 edition.

Read more at:

So is mental illness really on the increase? Or are we now no longer able to cope, such that conditions that we would have managed in the past are now classed as disorders. Are we becoming too sensitive to what we encounter in the world around us? Or is society really getting so complex that people are finding it harder and harder to cope? Or are psychiatrists just becoming too clever at seeking out and identifying new disorders?

Whatever the cause of the escalation of mental disorders, we should be attending to our wellbeing.

Research has shown that there is lots you can do to improve your mental health. The WellBeing Project in St Helens, Lancashire promotes the following twelve steps to enhancing your wellbeing:
• Explore your spiritual side. What do you value in life?
• Talk about your feelings. Talk to friends, family members, or visit your GP.
• Value yourself and others. Attend assertiveness classes, try team sports.
• Keep in touch with friends and loved ones. Send a letter or card. Meet for lunch.
• Ask for help. Talk to friends, family members, or visit your GP.
• Relax - take a break. Go walking, listen to music.
• Keep physically active. Gardening, walking, dancing.
• Eat well. Eat together. Eat five fruit and vegetables every day.
• Drink alcohol in moderation. Know your limits.
• Learn new skills. Learn basic skills, computer skills, learn a new language.
• Do something creative. Try cooking, painting, DIY.
• Get involved and make a contribution. Try volunteering, or join a local sports team.


Blogger Green Eyes said...

Hi as someone who has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia I'd like to say that Mental Illness is very much a sign of the times. I agree that life is complex and sometimes people who can't cope will react. But there is no shame in that, and MI needn't sentence.

Keep up the good work.


12:36 pm  
Blogger Green Eyes said...

Hi as someone who has been Diagnosed with Schizophrenia I think I can say with some authority that Mental Illness is very much a sign of the times, and unfortunately seems to be on the increase. That's not surprizing given the complexity of life and the fact that some people do find it hard to cope and will react, sometimes leading to acute or chronic mental illness. But fear not, MI may also a gift in that it allows one to explore a different reality that can have benefits. But always remember, MI is not something to be ashamed of and I take strength from the saying that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

Cheers and keep up the good work.


12:43 pm  

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