Getting serious about anxiety

I was recently passed an article by The Priory Group entitled “Anxiety – are you taking it serious?

It talks about how common anxiety is and how people do not take it seriously. It then shows twenty photos of people holding up signs with messages such as “don’t be such a drama queen” and “it must be horrible being you!”.

Powerful stuff. But is it accurate? Because if it isn’t, we could be unnecessarily worrying people from being open about their issues.

It is easy to pick out a couple of anecdotes that reflect badly on a certain situation. Doing so proves nothing more than that you are entirely qualified to become a journalist for the Huffington Post. However, if you want to make an important point, I think you need to back it up with some actual statistics. How many people were surveyed? What percentage of people report a negative experience?

The reason I ask is that I do not believe the percentage would be high. I have usually found the experience of being open about anxiety a positive one. So have many people. Indeed an overwhelming majority of people who attend Anxiety Leeds have. Of course I am working of anecdotal evidence as well, but the least we can say is that do not know either way whether most people have a positive or negative experience.

How about the control group?

Further, I would argue that you need to factor in a control group.

Yes, some people might make negative comments about anxiety. However, people make negative comments about a variety of conditions. Have you tried having flu as a man? Nobody has any sympathy for you. “Oh, man flu again, poor you.” It’s horrible. I have never experienced anything like that regarding anxiety.

Okay, but why is it important?

Selecting anecdotes without publishing evidence to back it up is harmful because you cannot substantiate the claims you making. Which means they might not be true. But people might believe them anyway.

This is primarily harmful to people suffering from anxiety. Mental health is the new gay and we need people to come out about it. Publishing articles that suggest that anyone who does will be subject to ridicule and abuse will only encourage people to keep their problems suppressed.

This is bad for them and bad for society. If we want to encourage people to be open about mental health difficulties they are facing, we need to reassure them coming out is a good move.



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This entry was posted on Monday, May 26th, 2014 at 10:22 am and is filed under Foundation, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.