Mental Illness Essay
Mental illness is any condition or disease that influences the way a person feels, thinks, behaves and relates to others and the surroundings. It can either be mild like in some depressions where things seems worse than they are, or very severe like when a person life is dominated by an illness making them not live independently(Keyes, 2013). The exact cause of mental health disorder is not known, but research has revealed a combination of causes ranging from, biological, genetic, environmental and psychological factors. It has been estimated that mental illness will affect one person among four in a day to day life.Mental illnesses can be prevented using simple preventive measures, but it still remains a serious global health challenge
Some mental illnesses are caused by psychological trauma from early childhood like severe physical and emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and loss of a loved one. Genetic mental illness runs in the family and is passed from a parent to the child through genes. Hereditary mental illness is triggered by other factors like environmental stressors and psychological trauma. Certain stressors like death, divorce, loss of a job and substance abuse may trigger the disorder in persons at risk. Other mental illnesses are linked to abnormal brain chemicals which aid nerve cells in communicating with the brain(Thornicroft, Ruggeri & Goldberg, 2013).
The common types of mental illness include; mood disorders, eating disorders, psychotic disorders, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder. Persons with personality disorders have extremely inflexible traits that are distressing to the person and cause problems in their relationships. Psychotic disorder is distorted thinking and awareness; it is diagnosed by two symptoms; delusions-false beliefs and hallucinations-images and sounds that are not real. Moods disorders are fluctuations from extreme sadness to extreme happiness, and they include bipolar, depression and cyclothymic disorder. Individuals who havepanic disorder present with fear, sweating and rapid heartbeat(WHO, 2011).
Symptoms of Mental Illness
Anxiety is a symptom of mental illness that differs from normal stress as it is long lasting and severe. It is characterized by increased heartbeat, sweating, flushing, headache, choking nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and dizziness. Psychological effects of anxiety include; vivid dreams, confusion, sleep disturbances, mind racing, decreased concentration, excessive worry and fear irritability, impatience, anger and confusion. The individual tends to have a phobic behaviour, compulsive and obsessive behaviour, distress and avoidance of social situations. Prolonged anxiety may lead to depression and later psychotic condition(Graham, 2013).
Depression is one symptom of mental illness lasting for at least two weeks and affects person’s thinking, emotion, physical and behavioural wellbeing. Emotional symptoms include sadness, guilt, anger, helplessness, hopelessness, mood swings and anxiety. Physical symptoms in depressed individual consist of loss of sex drive, weight gain or loss, reduced appetite or overeating, menstrual cycle change, constipation, lack of energy, chronic fatigue, too much or loss of sleep(Hill, Mann &Fitzgerald, 2011). Behavioural symptoms of depression include; drug or alcohol abuse, withdrawal from others, worrying, crying spells, no interest in personal appearance and loss of motivation. Psychological symptoms consist of; impaired concentration and memory, confusion and indecisiveness, self-blame, self-criticism, thoughts of suicide and death(Jongsma, Berghuis& Bruce, 2014).
Some individuals with mental illness may inhibit manic symptoms. These include; increased overreacting and activity, lack of insight, elated moods, rapid speech and thinking, grandiose delusions and sleep disturbance. It may lead to change of perception and thinking, hallucinations, crying spells and inappropriate emotions(Thornicroft, Ruggeri & Goldberg, 2013). These symptoms may indicate bipolar disorder or psychotic disorder. Individuals tend to be in denial of their status and may overreact if they are told of what they are suffering.
Primary prevention methods are used in preventing occurrence of a disease or disorder. It targets groups and individuals who are at a high risk of developing a mental illness based on social, psychological and biological factors. Primary prevention programs include providing support to children whose parents are facing divorce, distributing condoms and teaching teenagers who are at risk of pregnancy or teaching parents on effective parenting skills. D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is an international primary preventive program known in reducing substance abuse among the youths. This program has been known to impact knowledge on youths on drugs and the ways to cope with addiction(Thornicroft, Ruggeri & Goldberg, 2013)
Mental disorders are linked to human rights. Human rights violation, discrimination and stigma to individuals and families of mental ill individual are intense. The phenomenon represents the consequences that no treatment or preventive measures are existing. Effective preventive measures can change the way society and individuals perceive mental disorders. Many effective measures used are harmonious with principles of equal opportunity, care and social equity of vulnerable group(Jongsma, Berghuis& Bruce, 2014).
The common threat of fighting with mental illness is violence and conflict between countries and communities. Evidence-based prevention is a proven laboratory programme in varying resource and cultural settings. Cultural applicability has made dissemination of these prevention measures slow and complicated. The aim of mental disorder prevention is reducing recurrence, incidence, prevalence, reducing the risk of the condition and impact of the illness on the family, society and the affected person. Mental health promotion promotes a positive attitude by increasing by increasing psychological resilience, well-being and competence, by creation of supporting the environment and living conditions(WHO, 2011).
Mental disorder prevention reduces symptoms of the mentally ill. Health promotion and evidence- based prevention is a judicious, explicit and conscientious use of recent best evidence in making decisions about interventions for communities, populations and individuals which facilitate best outcomes in reducing incidence of disease by helping people to increase control and improve their health(Link & Phelan, 2014). Both solid standard and scientific evidence are required to avoid invalid conclusions to outcomes through the interventions. Protective factors in mental illnessare conditions that improve individual resistance to disorders and risk factors. Mostly, protective factors for individuals are identical on features of mental health and include; self-esteem, positive thinking, emotional resilience, stress management skills, and problem-solving(WHO, 2011).
Family related and individual protective and risk factors can be emotional, biological, behavioural, cognitive, family related and interpersonal. These factors have the strongest impact on individual mental health during the sensitive period in a lifespan, and the impact is extended to generations. For example, mental illness during childhood, infancy and child abuse may lead to anxiety and depression later in life while social support and secure attachment reduce the effects(Graham, 2013). Improved nutrition has been linked to improved educational outcome, cognitive development and reduced mental illness risk. The effective interventions include; growth monitoring and complementary feeding especially to children living in the impoverished communities. The models combine prevention with psychosocial care like attentive listening and warmth, nutritional interventions and counselling(Thornicroft, Ruggeri & Goldberg, 2013).
Poor housing is an indicator of poverty, improving houses is linked with the reduction of health inequalities and improves public health. Recent review on how housing affects health has shown an impact on mental and physical health outcomes. Improved housing reduces mental strains and increases positive social impact on safety perceptions, social, crime and community participation(Hill, Mann &Fitzgerald, 2011). Low educational and literacy levels limit many individuals from accessing economic entailments especially women and girls. Impacting education on girls and women helps in gained self-worth, pride and purpose(Graham, 2013).
Depressive Symptomology may be reduced by strengthening protective factors found in populations. These may include school-based programmes that targeting problem-solving, social and cognitive skills among adolescents and children. Parental depression may be reduced by parenting interventions that help parents with children who has conduct behaviour by improving their psychosocial wellbeing through training them in behavioural childrearing strategies(Link & Phelan, 2014). There exist programmes for people with elevated depression, and they are taught on improving problem-solving skills, positive thinking and challenging negative thinking. Mentally ill patients who present with depression should be encouraged and enrolled in these support programmes(Jongsma, Berghuis& Bruce, 2014).
Many traumatising events or exposure led to anxiety and depression. These preventable traumatising events include sexual assault, violence, child abuse, torture and war. The duration of exposure to a traumatising event works as an evidence-based determinant to the risk of psychiatric reactions and the way they respond to such events. Families and friends should help the mentally ill from any exposure to events that remind them of a painful past(WHO, 2011). The therapist during his session should help the infected and the affected to determine the causative event and any scene reminding him/her of the event should be avoided.
Factors Affecting Mental Illness
Factors that determine mental health include individual attributes and behaviours, social-economic circumstances and environmental factors. These three different determinants interact with each other or work individually against or of an individual’s mental status. For example, the individual level of self-worth could be diminished or enhanced depending on economic security or social support at household level that may intern be influenced by economic growth, social justice and political stability of a country. Individual’s mental health may be influenced by circumstances or event that occurred before their conception or birth. Pregnancies that take place during the adolescent or are unwanted increase the risk of mental health during childhood and ill behaviours during pregnancies like use of drugs (Novak &Syab, 2009)
People with mental health problems experience difficulties in securing or maintaining a job. They experience social exclusion, violent victimization, human rights abuse and discrimination. Presence or onset of mental health disorder increases the chance of disability and premature mortality from diseases like HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other chronic illnesses. The causes of occurrences of the diseases to these individual include unhealthy diet, side effects of medication, diminished physical activity and neglected physical health (by caregivers, families and themselves)(Link & Phelan, 2014). Persons with physical and comorbid mental conditions are at high risk of infection from these diseases due to reduced health seeking behaviours, follow-up and adherence for these cases.
Mental health disorders’’ prevalence has increased in work environment. Many employees are turning to be mentally ill either due to work or their personal life. Workplace should engage their employees in training that increase their mental health knowledge. For individuals with mental health problems, retaining, returning or finding employment in an open labour market is hard. The individuals are surrounded by stigma, and their recovery process is misunderstood by others(Rogers, & Pilgrim, 2009).
The workplace contains a significant influence of human mental well-being. Traditionally, employers have concentrated on their employees’ physical health forgetting their mental health. Certain factors promote mental health and psychosocial well-being in the workplace. They include an opportunity to carry out activities, planning and making decisions. Any mentally ill individual in a workplace should be grant similar opportunities and responsibilities as others to increase his self-worth(Novak &Syab, 2009).
Parents with babies and children who are mentally retarded hide them from friends, family and society. Many of these children do not attend therapy and are at elevated risk of premature death. This discrimination worsens their situation, and they view environment and society as their enemy. Lack of love and support from families and friends may increase chances of suicide. The society has a responsibility for protecting the affected children by accepting them whileparents, family and friends should love, support and accompany them during therapy(Dulmus&Nisbet, 2013).
Differences between Cares Approach and Self- Management
Patients should ensure that theyadhere to their doctor’s or therapist instructions. Family members have a responsibility in; ensuring drugs are taken at the right time, right dosage and support them during medication. The family supporter should be trained on ways of distinguishing and early detection of symptoms. The therapist should always be available during a call and ready to answer any question concerning the patient. Through this, the mentally ill person will be in control of his health and have confidence in the therapist(WHO, 2011).
Support programs should be created where mentally ill patients together with their family support or care meet(Dulmus&Nisbet, 2013). During these settings, individuals will share their experience, coping strategies and future intentions of dealing with the ailment. Through this, patients will boost their confidence and self-esteem and will make friends who understand them better and are facing similar challenges. Trainings and physical activities like exercise should be incorporated to increase knowledge on ways to cope with the condition and how to detect symptoms(Novak &Syab, 2009).
A friend or a family member should be involved during clinic visit. The mentally ill person should be helped in knowing the trigger of the symptoms. A plan should be drawn for him/her to know what to do in case the symptoms appear. Incase the symptoms appear, the individual should immediately contact his/her doctor or therapist. Check-ups and visits to the therapists should not be skipped because there may exist a new health problem and may be treated or any side effects of the medication being taken(Rogers, & Pilgrim, 2009).
Long-term maintenance of mental illness prevents relapse. The individual should seek help when symptoms start showing up. A regular schedule on sufficient sleeping, regular physical exercise and healthy eating should be maintained. Consulting the therapist or doctor is recommended in case of trouble while sleeping, or the individual has questions on exercise and diet. Carers should also be trained on the best way to support and show love to the mentally ill individual.
In suicidal patients, efforts should be taken to reduce any access to means of committing suicide. Counselling of individual with a history of suicide should be undertaken. During a counselling session, the cause for the act should be established, and it would be helpful in determining the actions forward. Incase of children, adolescents and young adults, parents and guardians should be counselled to help and support the victim in moving on and deleting suicidal thoughts in their minds. These individuals should be monitored in times when they are depressed and given support and medications when needed.
Families should educate themselves about their loved one’s condition as foundation for support. The knowledge of the way an illness function is important in reducing misconceptions and helps the family to give the loved one an effective help(Graham, 2013). Families of mentally ill should be educated and involved in the treatment process as this reduces symptoms, relapse and hospitalization days. Through this, the families understand the mentally ill individual behaviour is due to the illness and not willful or their cause. The education provided increases love, understanding and care.
Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) is a tool used for mental illness self-management. Studies have shown that self-management- or individual determination to manage illness, get better, face problems, take action and make choices, promote recovery frommental illness. WRAP is a program that participants identify externally and internal resources for facilitating recovery and use the tool to make their individual plan. The intervention helps in changing individual’s attitude and behaviour. Therapists are supposed to guide their clients in coming up with the plan and how to use it(Keyes, 2013).
Mental illness over the past years has erupted as a public health importance. It is a preventable and manageable disorder at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Changing factors that increase its susceptibility is mandatory. The society, family and environment should accommodate the mentally ill and give them the opportunity to enjoy life without discrimination. The caregivers should be in a position of identifying symptoms at early stages and managing them on their onset.
Dulmus, C. N., &Nisbet, B. C. (2013).Person-centered recovery planner for adults with serious mental illness. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Graham, G. (2013). The disordered mind: An introduction to philosophy of mind and mental6 illness. New York City, NY: Routledge.
Hill, N. E., Mann, T. L., & Fitzgerald, H. E. (2011).African American children and mental health. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger.
Jongsma, A. E., Berghuis, D. J., & Bruce, T. J. (2014). The Severe and Persistent Mental Illness Treatment Planner. Hoboken: Wiley.
Keyes, C. L. M. (2013). Mental well-being: International contributions to the study of positive mental health. Dordrecht: Springer.
Link, B. G., & Phelan, J. C. (January 01, 2014). Mental Illness Stigma and the Sociology of Mental Health.
Novak, L., &Švab, V. (January 01, 2009). Antipsychotics side effects' influence on stigma of mental illness: Focus group study results. 1st Croatian Congress on Side Effects of Psychotropics with International Participants, 21, 1, 99-102
Rogers, A., & Pilgrim, D. (2014).A Sociology Of Mental Health And Illness. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.
Thornicroft, G., Ruggeri, M., & Goldberg, D. P. (2013).Improving mental health care: The global challenge.Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell
World Health Organization.(2011). Mental health atlas 2011. Geneva: World Health Organization
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