Time to discuss an oft-hushed topic, especially in the black community. Mental illness.
We may be too dismissive about calling someone angry. A mental illness alters an individual’s thinking process and emotions, and greatly affects his or her ability to deal with situations and other individuals in a normal way. Mental illnesses vary to such an extent that different individuals suffering from the same disorder might exhibit varied symptoms and behavior.
The degree to which a mental disorder affects a person is also different; in some people the disorder is very prominent, while others may seem to be normal on the outside but have an emotional storm brewing within. No matter what the cause and nature of the psychological illness is, it is a condition that requires positivity, therapeutic help, and strong willpower from the patient, and has a slow recovery process.
The increasing number of young adults suffering from mental health illnesses suggests a mental health epidemic. The causative factors that contribute to mental disorders are mostly social, although biological, genetic, and psychological factors also play a role. Hereditary factors do not directly trigger psychological illnesses, but they increase the likelihood of them occurring if the individual is exposed to any kind of abuse, stress, or trauma.
A study by Kirsten Weir shows that common mental disorders like depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety may be caused by prenatal damage; any kind of physical or psychological trauma during pregnancy or at the time of birth may increase the likelihood of these illnesses. Poor nutrition, substance abuse, emotional neglect, or trauma suffered during childhood may also trigger mental illnesses.
Social factors that contribute in psychological health illnesses in young individuals are mainly peer pressure, trauma after loss of a loved one, broken family life, divorce or partner abuse, work related stress, or pressure to fit in. The consequences of these illnesses are life threatening for the patients if they remain untreated. Severe cases of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder end in suicide. Although depression is the most common diagnosable mental illness, almost 2 to 15 percent of people diagnosed with this illness commit suicide. Suicide rates for schizophrenic patients may also go as high as 15 percent.
What can be done?
In order to manage mental illness, the proper diagnosis has to be made first. For many patients this is a difficult step and they might require help from a friend, relative, or medical professional. And while medication can be an important part of alleviating the symptoms of mental disorders, it is often most effective when accompanied by the help of a therapist. Therapists help you recover physically and psychologically, and finding the right therapist is simple using a directory such as TherapyTribe.com and other similar resources. Psychotherapy, group therapy, and/or behavior therapy help the patient in recovering from the illness and resuming a normal life. Some patients might require hospital care for some time to ensure that they do not relapse and misuse their medication during treatment.
Patients of mental health disorders agree that the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems are as deteriorating as the mental condition itself. Negative attitudes towards the patient not only drive him towards seclusion, but also prevent him from seeking medical help for diagnosis and treatment.
In severe cases, the communication barrier created by the social stigma may deprive the individual from basic necessities like education, employment, and family life. Although recent educational movements have shifted the common persons’ perception of mental illnesses to some extent, the need of the hour is to recognize psychological symptoms like any other illness. Eliminating this discriminatory attitude from society will prove to be a major help for the patients of mental illnesses; this change in perceptions will help the suffering patients in fighting their illness without feeling shame or insult.