The Age of Anxiety and the Emotional Processing Scale

Mental health is high on the public's agenda in the UK right now. The provision of mental health services was a major topic at prime minister's questions recently and the new role of a Minister for Mental Health has also been created in the new shadow cabinet.

One of the most common mental health problems in the UK is anxiety, and it is on the rise. The pressures of modern life are even said to have resulted in this being “The Age of Anxiety”*. Despite this, it is said to often go un-reported and untreated.

According to the experts, anxiety is not always harmful. It's something that we all experience, and when faced with a deadline it can be helpful in giving us that little bit of extra drive. So at what point does it become a problem? With a recent report revealing that almost 1 in 5 people said they feel anxious 'nearly all of the time' or 'a lot of the time', it is clear that it has become a problem for many in the UK.

It was through his work with sufferers of panic disorder that Clinical Psychologist Roger Baker first noticed something unusual about the way these people were dealing with their emotions. They did not seem to connect really stressful life events with their panic attacks and thought in terms of physical sensations rather than emotions. After further research, he found that this pattern was not specific to panic disorder. In fact, he found that inhibited or blocked processing of emotions was linked to all anxiety disorders, depression and latterly psychosomatic and medical problems too.

This revelation lead Roger and his team to develop the Emotional Processing Scale (EPS) - an assessment used to identify healthy and unhealthy styles of emotional processing. The scale recognises that everyone deals with stressful life events and it emphasises the importance of experiencing and accepting our emotions as a way of understanding and adapting to the world around us.

Given the pressures of modern society and the reported rise of anxiety problems, an instrument such as the EPS can help individuals better understand their emotions.

Next up for Roger Baker? He and his research team will be delivering a symposium at the Division of Clinical Psychology annual conference in London. Catch “Emotional Processing; new developments in medicine, psychology and psychosomatics” on Thursday 3rd December. As the publisher of the Emotional Processing Scale, Hogrefe Ltd will be available throughout the conference to answer questions and offer information, and Roger will be available throughout to meet delegates and take their questions.

*Mental Health Foundation: Living with Anxiety report 2014

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