Contemporary psychiatry is influenced by an important concept: understanding mental illness in the context of physical disease. With the vast development of drugs formulated to control mental disorders in the 20th century, it has further cemented the notion that mental illnesses are fundamentally similar to physical illnesses.
Richard Layark and David M. Clark attempt to reconsolidate that idea in their book titled “Thrive: How Better Mental Health Care Transforms Lives and Saves Money.” Taking a deeper look into the underlying connections between the mental and physical aspects of the human body, they offer solutions and suggestions for effective treatment.
“Our book sets out the nature and scale of the problem, the case for action and the outline of a solution. People with mental health problems should have the same access to treatment as people who are physically ill. It is morally right that they should, and it is also vital for our economy and for the functioning of our society,” the authors stated in the book. “In the last 50 years, there has been massive social progress on many fronts. Yet much misery remains, because we have failed to address the inner psychological sources of distress. That is now a central challenge for the 21st century.”
The distress of the modern world is essentially characterized by mental illness, as it affects at least 20 percent of people in developed countries. It has diminished life expectancy as much as smoking does, accounting for nearly half of all disability claims, half of all workers’ sick days and affects educational achievement and income.
The book effectively presents the argument that spending more money on helping people recover and staying well would further strengthen the economy. Largely, the working class suffers with problems like anxiety and depression. Allowing them to recover fully and support themselves would be quite beneficial to the economy through savings in welfare and physical health care.
The authors elaborate on the likeness that mental pain shares many similarities with physical pain. They are both experienced in the same areas of the brain and disabling in nature. Mental pain has often been claimed to be far worse. Yet, for those experiencing physical pain, almost all patients get treatment right away, whereas two in three of those who are mentally ill, do not. The authors claimed this to be a “great injustice and gross inefficiency.”
“In Thrive, Richard Layard and David Clark set out to show how urgently we need to improve mental health provision, and what a false economy it is to try to save money by cutting back on, and refusing to fund, enough services for the mentally ill,” stated the Guardian review. “The authors are clearly compassionate people who want to abolish the misery of mental illness.”
“Extremely easy and pleasurable to read. It’s the most comprehensive, humane and generous study of mental illness that I’ve come across,” reviewed Melvyn Bragg, author and parliamentarian.
About the authors
Richard Layard is one of the world’s leading labor economists, and received the International Prize for Labor Economics in 2008. As a member of the House of Lords, he has significantly helped to raise the public profile of mental health. His 2005 book “Happiness” has been translated into 20 languages.
David M. Clark, professor of Psychology at Oxford, is one of the world’s leading experts on cognitive behavioral therapy, renowned for much progress in treatment methods. Alongside Richard Layard, he was the main driver behind the U.K.’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies program.
Written by Sana Ahmed, Sovereign Health Group writer