The death of Caroline Flack, who died by suicide just over a year ago while awaiting trial for physically assaulting her boyfriend, sparked renewed concern and much public debate about how we understand and treat people will mental illness. Throughout lockdown, the number of people recognising and reporting symptoms of their own mental ill-health has rocketed. On the one hand, Meghan Markle’s recent interview highlighted the trauma experienced by people whose suicidal thoughts are not believed, or taken seriously. On the other, anti-domestic abuse campaigners were horrified by the ‘unduly lenient’ sentence given to Anthony Williams, a man with no history of depressive illness, who murdered his wife in late March 2020. The judge ruled that Williams’ mental state had been “severely affected” by the first few days of lockdown, reducing his sentence to just five years.
Has all the campaigning for increased awareness of mental ill-health, and the availability of online support groups and resources, really made a positive difference? How well do we understand the difference between suffering from an anxiety disorder, and simply feeling anxious? Is self-diagnosis safe, and reliable? Are some people afforded more compassion than others? What have we really learned since Caroline died, and what needs to happen next?
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editor and invited experts
Dr Lucy Foulkes
Psychologist. Lucy is an honorary lecturer in psychology at UCL having previously been a lecturer in psychology at the University of York, and an associate editor and staff writer at Aeon
Mental health campaigner, host of Walk A Mile In My Shoes podcast
Writer, artist, performer and filmmaker. Since 2004 she has exhibited and performed internationally. Her journey as an artist has taken her up a tree in Regents Park, to California’s Death Row, to the Barbican, Tower Bridge and the Royal Academy, Trafalgar Square, and up a ladder to screw a lightbulb into the sky (She/They)