Society

Getting the Full Picture About Mental Health

“Very stressed, I can feel I can go ‘mental’!”

You might have heard this phrase or cliche before, which alludes to the mental health of a person.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as ‘a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.1

A Better Understanding of Mental Health

It is amazingly easy to assume that someone with a mental health disorder is simply crazy.

However, this definition sheds some light that perhaps, mental health issues are more prevalent than we thought.

As a matter of fact, WHO estimates that 1 out of 4 people across the world is experiencing mental health issues.2

At this point, you might be wondering: what are some of the mental health issues? Well, the top five common mental health issues are listed below:3

1. Anxiety

The Merriam-Webster dictionary states that the medical definition of anxiety is an ‘abnormal or overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear that is often marked by physical signs such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate.’4

It is a lot more serious than just feeling a little anxious before an important test or a big meeting.

Unfortunately, it is reported that there is a 70% increase in both anxiety and depression rate among teenagers since the 1980s, which shows us that mental health issues in young people are a very real concern.5

2. Depression

It might be common for someone to say, ‘I am feeling depressed!’ after an unpleasant incident, a break-up, or an argument; the truth of the matter is depression is a lot more serious than that.

It is often characterized by loss of interest or pleasure, sadness, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, exhaustion and trouble sleeping at night.6

Tragically, depression is also found to have impacted 300 million people, making it the most common mental health issue.7

3. Eating Disorders

In recent times, this is becoming more common, due to the stereotype of “thin equals beautiful” that has been propagated by Hollywood.

The common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.8

Eating disorders can also cause serious health conditions such as heart complications and harmful effects on the digestive system and teeth.9

Among popular figures who have died from eating disorders include Karen Carpenter, a musician and Carolina Reston, a Brazilian model.10

4. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

It is estimated that 2.3% of the population suffer from OCD, which is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to be fixated with a particular behaviour or compulsions.11

For example, a person might have an irrational fear of having their car or home broken into and would repeatedly check to ensure that the doors are locked.

Tragically, even if a person tries to break this cycle of irrational behaviour, they might end up feeling anxious and distressed. This can lead them to go right back to the behaviour.12

5. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

This is a mental health issue where those affected will struggle to pay attention and demonstrate hyperactive and impulsive behaviour.

One of the consequences of ADHD in children is poor performance in school, while adults with ADHD will find it hard to have a stable relationship.

Ultimately, in both children and adults, it can lead to low self-esteem.13

So, the next time you are tempted to chide a classmate you find to be always disrupting your class, do stop short and think if your classmate is suffering from ADHD and be more gracious in your actions.
Other types of mental health issues include dementia, autism, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.14
Young People and Mental Health Issues

In 2010, the National Institute of Mental Health conducted a study and found that one out of five youths suffers from at least one type of mental health illness.15 Isn’t that sad? Among the reasons that contributed to this are:16

  1. Increase in parental pressure.
  2. Increase in electronic media usage.
  3. Easier access to violent television programmes, movies, and video games.
  4. Easier access to sexually explicit material via the Internet.
  5. The breakdown of the family unit.

Ultimately, one of the damaging effects of mental health illness is the damage to the self-esteem of a person.

A person might feel cut-off from the rest which can further contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness.

This can worsen if society labels the person as ‘abnormal’, due to an existing stigma surrounding mental health illnesses, and perhaps a lack of understanding of the causes behind it.

At the end of the day, all of these factors could even drive a person to commit suicide.

Getting the Full Picture About Mental Health

Source: Chronicle Me (via https://anxiousacademics.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/mental-health-awareness-infographic/)

What Can Governments Do?

An irony that we can see from here is this: as the world is getting more modern, more people are on the verge of breaking down.

Hence, an imperative question now is: what should governments do to tackle this issue?

They can take a leaf out of the books of these two countries which has notable achievements in tackling mental health issues:

  1. Luxembourg: To treat mental health among adolescents, the country adopts the ‘positive education’ model to help these adolescents discover strengths unique to them. This method is used to combat the stigma of mental illnesses and cultivate the growth of healthy self-esteem in these young people.17
  2. Germany: The country provides those with mental illnesses financial support, access to healthcare facilities, and assistance to find employment, in addition to awareness campaigns. In fact, they took it one step further by training refugees in their countries to become counselors! That’s truly thinking out of the box!18

In addition to employing some of the initiatives of these two countries, governments should also:

  1. Abolish the stigma around mental illnesses by creating targeted campaigns on this issue. More awareness should be created on the struggles that people with mental health illnesses go through, as well as how common it is. Citizens should be encouraged to show compassion and mercy on those suffering from mental health issues, instead of alienating them. With more awareness and breaking the traditional stigma that exists, more people would also be emboldened to open up and seek help before it is too late.
  2. Increase funding to improve accessibility to quality mental health treatment: With greater funding, more quality research and ultimately treatment can be introduced to society in a more accessible way. Those who are suffering from mental health issues should not find it difficult to get the help they need.
  3. Provide more support to nonprofit organisations tackling this issue: Government can work together with these organisations which are already working on this issue. More support can be channelled where needed so that the initiatives of these nonprofits can be taken to a greater level.

What Can I Do?

If you are wondering what part you can play, here are some suggestions for you:

    1. Volunteer at nonprofit organisations: There is nothing like getting in the field, and when you help out at these nonprofit organisations, you will get first-hand experience of interacting with those suffering from mental health issues and understand how to help them. Many times, all they need is a shoulder to cry on and a non-judgmental friendship. More importantly, you will be surprised at just how broader your perspective of this world will end up being, after spending time with those who are suffering and need our help.
    2. Break the stigma: If you know of someone who is struggling with mental health issues, reach out to them! They might be suffering on their own, for fear that they will be alienated if anyone discovers their condition. Break this stigma by lending them a helping hand.
    3. Voice out: If you feel that your local community, local council or your state government can do more in tackling this issue, find creative ways to voice out, calling for more action. Take it over social media, and most importantly, be gracious and polite while doing this because your goal should be working together with your leaders.

Your Little Effort Can Go a Long Way

This is the silent war that those suffering from mental health issues go through, possibly every single day.

So, while the world goes on like normal, people go shopping or eat out in nice restaurants, others are living in constant hell.

That is exactly why they must be helped urgently. So, let’s do all we can to save those who need our support.

Reference

[1] “Mental Health.” Wikipedia, Feb. 1, 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_health

[2] “Top 5 Mental Health Disorders.” ImperoSoftware, Feb. 1, 2021, imperosoftware.com/uk/blog/top-5-mental-health-disorders/

[3] “Top 5 Mental Health Disorders.” ImperoSoftware, Feb. 1, 2021, imperosoftware.com/uk/blog/top-5-mental-health-disorders/

[4] “Anxiety.” Merriam-Webster, Feb. 1, 2021, merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anxiety

[5] “Top 5 Mental Health Disorders.” ImperoSoftware, Feb. 1, 2021, imperosoftware.com/uk/blog/top-5-mental-health-disorders/

[6] “The Top Five Most Common Mental Illnesses.” TalkSpace, Feb. 1, 2021, talkspace.com/blog/the-top-five-most-common-mental-illnesses/

[7] “The Top Five Most Common Mental Illnesses.” TalkSpace, Feb. 1, 2021, talkspace.com/blog/the-top-five-most-common-mental-illnesses

[8] “Eating Disorders.” MayoClinic, Feb. 1, 2021, mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eating-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20353603

[9] “Eating Disorders.” MayoClinic, Feb. 1, 2021, mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eating-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20353603

[10] “Who Are the Famous Celebrities with Eating Disorders?” EdRefferal, Feb. 1, 2021, edreferral.com/celebrities-ed#:~:text=Who%20are%20the%20famous%20people%20who%20have%20DIED,the%2041-year-old%20actress%27%20struggles%20with%20bulimia%20and%20anorexia

[11] “Top 5 Mental Health Disorders.” ImperoSoftware, Feb. 1, 2021, imperosoftware.com/uk/blog/top-5-mental-health-disorders/

[12] “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” MayoClinic, Feb. 1, 2021, mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354432

[13] “Adult Attention-Deficit, Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).” MayoClinic, Feb. 1, 2021, mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/symptoms-causes/syc-20350878

[14] “Mental Disorders.” WorldHealthOrganisation, Feb. 1, 2021, who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders

[15] “Why is Mental Illness on the Rise?” AnxietyCentre, Feb. 1, 2021, anxietycentre.com/FAQ/why-is-mental-illness-on-the-rise.shtml

[16] “Why is Mental Illness on the Rise?” AnxietyCentre, Feb. 1, 2021, anxietycentre.com/FAQ/why-is-mental-illness-on-the-rise.shtml

[17] “This is How 9 Countries Worldwide Treat Mental Health Issues.” Bustle, Feb. 1, 2021, bustle.com/p/what-does-mental-health-care-look-like-abroad-this-is-how-9-countries-treat-mental-illness-2885010

[18] “This is How 9 Countries Worldwide Treat Mental Health Issues.” Bustle, Feb. 1, 2021, bustle.com/p/what-does-mental-health-care-look-like-abroad-this-is-how-9-countries-treat-mental-illness-2885010

DoGood Team

DoGood (PPM-029-10-04052018) is a digital advocate for a divinely inspired way of life. We manage multiple projects across all races, faiths and localities. We serve as a research and learning centre, focusing on good moral values and practices, and actively enjoining good and forbidding evil. We cover all social, economic and political aspects of human life and the environment, and strive for a better world for all. Who's behind DoGood Team?

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