The upward trend in stress-related conditions such as depression, anxiety, worry and nervous breakdown among our young and middle-aged population is very worrying.

A recent report in the media stated that there was a rise in suicide rates among young men. Why is that?

In a recent article in the British Medical Journal, Professor Graham Thornicroft, professor of community psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London, writes: "An enormous health burden is increasingly being recognised . . the scale of global challenge posed by mental illness has become increasingly clear in recent years . . . the inadequacy of our international response is only now apparent with the publication of three ground-breaking reports from the World Health Organisation."

The figures quoted by the WHO report are alarming. A tenth of all adults, an estimated 450 million people worldwide, are affected by mental disorders at any one time. They now account for 12.3 per cent of the global burden of disease. In Europe and the Americas, neuro-psychiatric conditions make up a staggering 43 per cent of the total burden of disability.

Yet government funding for mental health services in this country falls far short of the demand, which is demonstrated by the long waiting time to see a counsellor or therapist. The current waiting time to see a counsellor under the NHS in Brighton is about six months and the waiting time to receive therapy may be as long as a year or more.

The most common preventable mental health problems in UK are stress, anxiety and depression, often triggered by financial strain, work pressures and strained relationships.

So how can we deliver effective treatment to individuals? More importantly, how can we preserve mental wellbeing?

"A happy soul is a healthy body," said Charak, the ancient Ayurvedic physician.

Displaying respect, compassion, tolerance, contentment, understanding and support for others generates a holistic view of life and helps create a balance between work and personal enjoyment.

We need to be able to find the time to enjoy ourselves, not just work long hours neglecting our children or family. If we can connect with our inner being and remind ourselves every day of the purpose of our life, we soon realise that life is for living.

Each of us needs to take control of our life.

I have advocated the use of group therapy, run by professional psychotherapists, as an invaluable support to prevent stress and anxiety. Community groups where people can meet regularly and share in artistic and social events are very therapeutic.

And I wonder if the problem of mental health would be solved if we all threw away our credit cards and vowed never to use them again?

Dr Milind Jani works as a conventional and
holistic GP and Dr Asmita Jani as Ayurvedic Consultant from 3 Eaton Gardens, Hove.

Call them on: 01273 777448 or email: