The Full Monty tells the story of a six unemployed men from Sheffield who decide to form a striptease act in an attempt to change their fortunes. But they confront a number of mental health issues along the way.
The film was a major critical success grossing over $250 from a budget of less than $3 million. This made it the highest grossing film in the UK until it was outsold by Titanic.
The Full Monty gathered critical acclaim in a number of fields winning 35 awards including recognition for choreography and an Oscar for best music:
But looking back it’s down to earth discussion of male mental health issues also deserves recognition.
On their journey the six former steelworkers confronts depression, suicide erectile dysfunction (ED), and body image in the wake of redundancy.
However light hearted, the film normalises mental illness by demonstrating it’s frequency. It shows that ‘blokey’ men can have non judgmental conversations about mental health. It also highlights the value of peer support but doesn’t shy away from how difficult men find it to talk about these issues.
Although peer support is advocated by the Royal College of Psychiatrists it isn’t always enough. From a mental health perspective, the most frustrating element of the lovable characters stories is their failure to seek professional help.
The effects of Unemployment
The Full Monty also tackles the impact of unemployment which has a huge effect on psychological well-being. So much so research indicates unemployed people are two to three times more at risk of death by suicide than fully employed people.
A study looking at the effects of unemployment in Bradford took people who lost their job during the 2009-2010 economic recession. It found three main experiences that made involuntary unemployment a serious detriment to mental health:
- Inability to pursue goals: Immediately people are unable to save, buy/do the things they want. In the long term career is damaged or lost.
- ‘Spoiled identities’: People suffer an identity crisis during the image transition from someone who works to someone who doesn’t. They may experience ‘unemployment stigma’ and ‘welfare stigma’.
- Destruction of routine: People suffer a loss of structure and motivation in their lives.
If you feel affected by any of the issues and need someone to talk with the Samaritans are always happy to listen. They provide a 24 hour, free and confidential service:
Call 116 123
Featured image accredited to C Jill Reed
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is the surgical procedure of implanting a neurostimulator AKA ‘brain pacemaker’ deep in someones head. The device gets it’s nickname because it releases electrical impulses, like pacemakers used in the heart.
DBS is most commonly used in Parkinson’s disease. But it can also be used number of other psychological and neurological conditions including: Chronic pain, major depression , obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
The procedure involves implanting very fine wires with electrodes at their tips into the brain.
Wire extensions go under the skin behind the ear and down the neck. They are connected to a pulse generator, which is placed under the skin below the collar bone or the chest area.
Andrew Johnson’s DBS
Andrew Johnson lives with his wife and two children in New Zealand. He was diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s in 2009. At the time he was only 35 years old. In November 2012 and February 2013 he underwent the surgical procedure. Here he talks about his experience:
How is it fitted?
A hole is drilled in the skull known commonly as a burr hole. It is usually around 14mm wide. Then through the burr hole the lead, with an electrode at its tip, is inserted.
The procedure can be performed under either local or general anaesthetic. This is because sometimes doctors need to ask the patient questions during the operation to determine optimal placement of the permanent electrode.
If the procedure is done under general anesthetic live MRI guidance is used for direct visualization of brain tissue and device.
Featured image accredited to Hellerhoff
Andrew Solomon, author of ‘The Noonday Tree’, said during his Ted Talks: “the treatments we have for depression are appalling… I hope people will hear about my treatments and be appalled that anyone endured such primitive science”
For many the drugs prescribed to treat psychiatric disease either do not work, have difficult side effects or both.
With that said the current treatments of mental illness compare favorably with the atrocities of the earliest state run institutions.
Bethlem Royal Hospital, better known as Bedlam, is widely considered the oldest psychiatric hospital in Europe. It was notorious for its inhumane and at times torturous conditions.
Historians say there are records of the mentally ill being confined there from as early as 1403. In that year a charity commission visiting the hospital reported 6 male inmates suffering from “mente capti” a latin term for insanity. The same report details four pairs of manacles, 11 chains, six locks and two pairs of stocks.
The original Bedlam was built over a sewer that served both the hospital and the nearby street. This common drain was infamous for overflows of waste that filled the entrance of the hospital.
Reports by Thomas Moore confirm that for the poorest inmates, family and friends were expected to visit regularly to bring food and clothes. At the same time wealthy individuals paid a fee to wander the corridors and view the sick inmates for entertainment.
According to Andrew Scull author of ‘Madness in Civilisation’ inspections throughout the 17th Century found patients starving and chained to the walls.
The death of Hannah Mills
Hannah Mills was widowed in her 20’s, she suffered from “melancholy” a term probably describing severe depression. She was admitted to the York Asylum, a similar institute to Bedlam on 15 March 1790.
Those in charge of her care refused to let her relatives visit. At the time it was a commonly believed madness could be cured by purges like vomiting, painful blistering and sudden immersion in cold baths. She died a month later on 29 April.
Hannah was a Quaker, a christian group involved in the abolition of slavery. This led fellow Quaker William Tuke, a businessman and philanthropist, to investigate the treatment of the insane.
Horrified by what he found William educated himself on contemporary research into the the treatment of mental illness and with his son Henry he founded The York Retreat in 1796.
Together they pioneered the principles of restoring self-esteem and self-control through attention and reward. In The York Retreat physical punishment and manacles were banned although in extreme cases straitjackets were used.
Activities included walks and farm work in the large and quite grounds. Treatment included a social environment where residents were part of a family unit.
People were accepted as potentially rational beings who could recover proper social conduct through self-restraint and moral strength rather than punishment.
Samuel Tuke, Henry’s son and William’s grandson, carried on the family interest in the treatment of the insane. In 1813 he wrote about the York Retreat, a report that was used to publicise the principles of this’moral therapy’, which were considered to be the basis of the therapeutic environment there. The report also focused on the condition of ‘madhouses’ of the time, and drew public attention to the urgent need for reform.
Featured Image: The Rake’s Progress. Accredited to William Hoggarth
Mind, the mental health charity, has discovered local authorities in England spend only 1% of their public health budget on prevention of mental illness.
Using information gained following an FOI request Mind have shown local councils will spend £40 million on mental illness prevention in 2015-16.
In the same year over £600 million will be spent on sexual health and £160 million on stop smoking measures.
Local authorities are required by the Department of Health to report on their public health spending against a set list of categories. Currently mental health is reported under ‘miscellaneous’ along with 14 other areas, while ‘stop smoking measures’ and ‘promotion of physical activity’ both merit their own categories.
The data gathered by Mind also indicated that some authorities spend nothing on the prevention of mental illness.
The news comes at a time when twitter demonstrates growing anger from public figures at the apparent lack of funding for mental health:
Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive, responded to the data by explaining how much more could be done:
“One in four people will experience a mental health problem every year, yet so much of this could be prevented by targeted programmes aimed at groups we know to be at risk, such as pregnant women, people who are isolated, or those living with a long term physical health problem.”
Cost of Mental Health
According to the open letter to the government calling for parity in the treatment of physical and mental health, this lack of prevention is costly.
Some figures estimate “£100 billion a year is spent on visits to A&E, lost jobs, unemployment benefits, homelessness support, police time and even prison places”.
Paul Farmer added: “The personal costs are immeasurable, and the wider economic cost is huge. Prevention is always better than cure and ignoring the problem simply doesn’t make sense.”
Featured image accredited to Miran Rijavec
Discussing mental illness can be extremely difficult. As a victim it can be impossible to describe how you feel. As the friend or partner of a victim it can be hard to choose your words sensitively. It is in situations like this where sometimes only artists have the power to express what we mean beyond words alone.
Don Mclean – Vincent
A tribute to Vincent van Gough who’s long battle with mental illness ended in his suicide. Van Gough’s genius was only recognised after his death. This song reached number one in the UK.
John Martyn – Solid Air
Written in support of a friend who suffered what Martyn described as “a nervous breakdown”.
Pink Floyd – Shine on you crazy Diamond
A tribute to former frontman Syd Barrett who left the band while reportedly struggling with schizophrenia.
Pixies – Where is my mind
Supposedly inspired by Francis’s experiences scuba-diving. It was also featured in the soundtrack to fightclub.
James Taylor – Fire and Rain
The first part of the song deals with the suicide of his childhood friend Suzanne Schnerr. Later Taylor describes his own battle with depression.
Nirvana – Lithium
Cobain suffered from bipolar disorder, lithium is commonly used to treat it
Johnny Cash – Hurt
Written by Nine Inch Nails (I much prefer this version). The song confronts living with depression and self harm.
Please add any songs that spring to mind in the comments!
Featured image accredited to Kip Dudden