This morning I was pointed in the direction of a letter in the Irish Times.
Now to get the context of the letter I had to follow the trail back a bit to find another letter.
Now the blood was beginning to simmer a bit at this stage but I persisted in my quest for the original article.
I found it.
On the very first paragraph, my blood finally reached boiling point.
Irish people are not making the lifestyle changes needed to promote and improve their health. Despite repeated information campaigns on quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, eating healthily, and being more active, no one appears to be listening to, or acting on, the advice from health experts.
No one appears to be listening to, or acting on, the advice from health experts? So fucking what? The implication here is that the “experts” know far more than us and we should really kowtow to their every dictat. We are naughty schoolchildren and we must obey our elders and betters. There is only one expert in this field that I will pay any attention to, and that is Doc, who knows me personally. All the others can go fuck themselves as in general they are professional naggers with their own little agendas, none of which concerns me personally.
Only 13 per cent of respondents reported positive mental health meaning they “felt full of life”, “calm and peaceful,” “had lots of energy” and “been a happy person” in the four weeks before the survey took place.
Now I would see this as a core point in the whole debate. Positive mental health is far more important than positive physical health. Which would you rather be: unhealthy but happy, or healthy and miserable? But our author then proceeds to argue that poor mental health is somehow related to poor physical health, thereby proposing a ridiculous hypothesis that improving physical health makes us happy. This is utter bilge. Has the author considered the simple idea that constant nagging, “denormalising” and penalising is making a large sector of the community unhappy?
The most interesting finding was that so few people changed their health behaviour since the 2015 survey. Almost half of smokers would like to stop and 40 per cent of respondents would like to be more physically active. Many would like to lose weight and eat healthily but cannot afford it.
That isn’t interesting at all. The author is confusing vague aspiration with intent which is the norm within the walls of the Nanny State. However these figures are regularly trotted out as an excuse to “help” all those people achieve a vague aspiration. I would maybe like to do something is worlds away from I really must do something.
Unfortunately, information campaigns and television programmes have little influence on health behaviour. Campaigns can increase knowledge but actions rarely follow. Health information relayed by experts competes against a barrage of “real life” experiences that promote a different message. Scare tactics do not work either.
And they are surprised? Has it never occurred to them that we are individuals and adults and can make up our own minds? Scare tactics don’t work because we have long since seen through their Boogie Men for the advertising slogans that they really are.
Telling people they will develop chronic diseases at some point in the future if they do not stop smoking, binge drinking or whatever, is largely unsuccessful.
Because people not only see the fallacy of that with their own eyes but are willing to take any risk, real or imaginary, simply because that’s the nature of the beast. People know that a lot of sports are dangerous but does that stop them participating? If people enjoy doing something they will do it. But then enjoyment isn’t in Public Health’s vernacular.
Like it or not more legislation is needed. We must be forced to change if we are not prepared to do so voluntarily.