Defining and understanding mental health and illness.


Conditions of state of mind if not correctly placed can be stigmatising and create a confusing scenario when discussing with an individual. Always be clear and precise when discussing elements of care with an individual and make sure that what you re discussing or conveying is explained in full with no room for misunderstanding. When dealing with a person who is living with  condition or who is going through a period of mental distress there must be clarity and understanding to reduce the risk of current, historic and future distress and confusion. For instance there is a distinct difference between mental illness and mental health that is at times lost in translation when discussing the topic. At all times your definition must be clear and fully evidenced.

Respecting personal experience of mental distress.

labels are for clothes...

Always refrain from categorising, judgements, etc. Always meet the individual where they are and allow for among other considerations, cultural, religious and social background, a full understanding of the nature and background of an individual should be taken into consideration when working and caring for a specific individual. When approaching a person who is living with a condition it should be approached in the same way you would approach an individual under any other circumstances, with unconditional positive regard, non-judgemental, open-minded and empathetic, always respecting equality and diversity. Anything less could add to the already perceived or at times very real stigma experienced by an individual.

Community care, fear and the high risk user.

There has been a distinct change in the care of individuals in our communities who are living with a condition. This has changed from asylum’s for the ‘mentally unstable’ to care in the community. This does not always promote a change for the better. Way’s of collating and reporting care in the community have been ‘socially structured’ and therefore have a negative impact on those living with a condition in the community therefore adding to the stigma. There is an element of fear and misunderstanding that has been added to by negative media coverage. The social structure has been designed to report the negative aspects of individuals suffering from mental distress. Links between violence and negative aspects and mental distress are weak and most are lacking in evidence to support. In fact when looking at other concerns in the area such as alcoholism and substance use the evidence clearly finds these concerns higher risk when it comes to health, emotional and physical complications. The statistics are clear that violent crimes are more frequent where alcohol is concerned yet due to the reports and the design of the reporting the evidence collated and the way it is collated would have us believe that those suffering mental distress are higher risk.

Mental health as a business.

A lot of this could be attributed to the influence of pharmaceutical companies on the world of psychology. Big pharmaceutical industries have become big business in the field of mental illness resulting in a toxic and lucrative relationship between services designed to support and treat and those that produce medications to treat. This has created a need for individuals and has had a massive impact on the promotion of medication, which in turn has hugely influenced the changing face of mental diagnoses. This has, in effect, created a conflict of interests between ‘real’ care and big business with psychiatry almost selling out to the interests of the big pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the medications designed to treat. The number of diagnosed conditions has effectively grown resulting in a vast and intricate business rather than focusing on real and effective psychiatric treatment and this also began to have an influence on the decision’s made by a small handful of psychiatrists which could result in misdiagnoses and add to the stigmatising of individuals and the negative impact that a diagnoses may have on a specific individual. Also the dependence of research could easily be influenced by this as an effective way of funding research programs. Two prime examples of this are ADHD which when discovered resulted in a huge surge in ritalin and at the same time a huge rise in Autism which demanded a new form of treatment. Antidepressants were the ideal example of big pharmaceutical companies influencing the field of psychiatry and marketing strategies have been created to sell the product to the consumers, in this case the professionals dealing with individuals in frontline situations. This has resulted in misrepresentation of some drugs where side effects were not recorded but were reported. Research not being truly reported difficulties and true evidence being extremely hard to find. This also in turn creates a major cost to the communities and the general public.

Public health and mental health promotion.

When discussing public health there are two angles to consider. The first is reducing the risks to the general public and the second measuring disease and devising strategies to prevent illness. Mental health can be seen as a considerable ‘burden’on public health with it’s cost reaching in excess of £77 billion a year. £12 on the NHS, £23 billion due to the fact that those diagnosed with a condition may not be able to work and the remaining £42 billion attributed to the reduced quality of life and indeed the loss of life among those living with and living with another who has a condition. The relationship between mental health and public health is inextricably linked with most conditions affecting not only the ones who have the condition but also their significant others. Concerns and worries arising from the conditions of a loved one, such as fear of self harm and suicide, schizophrenic episodes, to mention a few, can affect the social functioning of all involved. Quality of life is intertwined with psychological well-being. Alongside this the individual living with the condition, it has been evidenced, have worse physical health than others. This can sometimes be attributed to the side effects of some medications given to treat the condition. Public health incorporates the care of all those living in and around the confines of mental health, this can include: homeless, prisoners, abused individuals, dual diagnoses, and people with disabilities, and also covers all ages. It also covers all platforms from home to hospital and school to work. In order to promote mental health we must address stigma and discrimination at all levels, supporting inclusion at every level and learning about the health, emotional and physical trauma’s faced by those living with the condition and those surrounding and supporting them. This is imperative in supporting an individual to take control of their lives.



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