Mental health is a state of well-being characterized by emotional and social functioning and the ability to participate in everyday life. A person’s mental health can be affected by many things including their environment, life events, and family and cultural influences. Having a good mental health can help people to function well in their daily lives, enjoy their relationships and make positive contributions to society.
Mental illness is a medical condition and should be treated in the same way as other medical conditions such as a heart attack or cancer. However, a debate has emerged over whether mental illnesses are biological in origin or if they are mainly due to other factors such as psychological and environmental stresses and interactions. This debate is important because it reflects the wider debate about how mental illnesses are understood, stigmatized and responded to.
It is essential to note that while there are differences between mental and physical illnesses, they can be effectively treated with psychosocial interventions such as talking therapy (psychotherapy), behavioural therapies and occupational and speech therapy as well as medication. The latter is particularly useful in treating certain mental disorders such as narcolepsy, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In addition, people with mental health issues can find support groups that provide them with a sense of community and understanding of their condition, as well as offer practical advice such as self-care and how to manage symptoms.
The most effective treatment for mental health is early identification and intervention. However, there are many barriers to accessing care. These include a lack of insurance or the inability to afford it, the stigma associated with having a mental illness, and difficulties in locating services that are able to respond to the needs of individuals. Other issues such as lack of transportation or geographic distance, cultural beliefs and prejudice, and poor schooling can also contribute to a person not seeking help.
A recent KFF/CNN survey found that 1 in 5 Americans report having a mental health issue. Many of these issues can be caused by environmental, societal and genetic factors. For example, childhood trauma and adverse experiences such as divorce, unemployment or a death of a loved one can lead to depression and anxiety. Genetic family history is another factor that can increase the chances of developing a mental illness. Having a close relative with a mental health condition can significantly increase the risk of having one yourself.
Despite the prevalence of mental health issues, many people do not seek treatment or do not receive adequate treatment. This is because the concept of mental illness is still stigmatized and misunderstood by society, even among those who have a mental health condition themselves. In order to address this, it is crucial to implement mental health awareness campaigns that are informed by new knowledge from the fields of recovery and mental wellness, as well as by the experience of service users themselves. This will allow campaigns to highlight the positive aspects of mental illness and help reduce stigma and discrimination.