A note from Professor Michael Crawford on the current mental-health crisis in young people

Michael portrait Aus-1Tragically, since WWII our food system has ignored the biological priority of Homo sapiens – the brain. It has drifted further and further away from its original dietary balance, one that included brain-specific nutrients.

The richest source of these nutrients is in the marine food web, whilst the intensive food production on which we now rely is not. The brain evolved in the sea using DHA and marine nutrients 500 million years ago, and it still requires those same nutrients.

The consequences are what we are faced with today – namely mental ill-health in the UK and Europe, which has become the leading burden of ill health, coming at a greater cost to health services than heart disease and cancer combined. The problem is being globalised and is the gravest threat to peace and humanity.

The recent report on the increase in mental-health services in UK children (see the Mother and Child Foundation’s response here) highlights the gravity of the situation. It confirms the importance of ensuring proper brain development before birth, which is when the bulk of the adult number of brain cells are created.

On 3 October 2016 The Guardian reported on alarming NHS figures concerning young people receiving mental health care in the UK. Less than a week earlier the newspaper’s front page headline was “Mental illness soars in young women” – the mothers of the next generation. These media headlines echo what we have predicted, known and been writing about for many years. A restoration of the food paradigm closer to that which supported the evolution of the brain and the emergence of Homo sapiens is the only and urgent answer.

The aim of the Mother and Child Foundation is to promote the health of the mother and the child during pregnancy, infancy and beyond, in order to reduce risks of mental ill-health, behavioural pathologies and brain dysfunction across the globe. Our work is of fundamental importance – if mental ill-health continues to escalate, the consequences are unthinkable. It is time for action.

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