We need to rethink the conversation around mental health.
Public awareness of mental illness has been transformed in recent years, but our understanding of what it actually is has yet to catch up. Too often, psychiatric disorders are confused with the normal stresses and challenges of human experience. A narrative has taken hold that a crisis of mental illness has been building among young people for many years – and is set to get far worse.
In this profoundly sensitive and constructive book, psychologist Lucy Foulkes argues that the crisis is one of ignorance as much as illness. Have we raised a ‘snowflake’ generation? Or are today’s young people experiencing greater stress, enhanced by social media, than ever before? Foulkes shows that both perspectives are useful but limited. The real question in need of answering is: how should we distinguish between ‘healthy’ suffering and actual illness?
Drawing on her extensive knowledge of the scientific and clinical literature, Foulkes explains what is known about mental illness – how it arises, why it appears mainly during adolescence, the various tools we have to cope with it – but also what remains unclear: drawing a line between normality and disorder is essential if we are to provide appropriate help to those in need, but no such line exists in nature. She presents the argument that the widespread misunderstanding of this aspect of mental illness might actually be contributing to its prevalence.
Losing Our Minds provides both the clarity and the nuance that are so urgently needed.