Updated: Oct 21, 2020
First of all, I want to wish everyone "Happy World Mental Health Day".
But why do we even have a day for mental health and how is it even significant?
When I talk to you about mental health, at least 50-60 percentage of you will be thinking about depression, anxiety, therapy or something darker. This is the concept that got stuck to our minds 'cause of television, media, confusing messages and so on.
Being a psychology student researcher and a psychiatric social worker, I think it is my duty to clear to you what mental health exactly means or at least what it is according to me.
According to the World Health Organization, Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
Keyes (2003) says Mental health is not just the absence of mental illness. We mostly think that the presence or absence of mental illness marks our mental health, but the definition above clearly says it is a state of well-being which helps in the realisation of individual potential. Also, the well-being of a person is defined by him/her and is subjective in nature and everyone has the right to do anything (only legal) to maintain personal mental health.
We live in a modern society with stressors and problems everywhere, but when we can cope up with all these difficulties and move forward then we are called as mentally healthy. How these stressors affect a person's mental health depends on many factors like personality, the intensity of the stressor, situation, genetics etc. But, retaining the mental health differs from one person to the other and some of us cope up using different measures and some show "abnormal" behaviours and thoughts. That is when we say bring the word "Mental illness".
Mental illness which is marked by disturbing thoughts, emotions and behaviours include many conditions. Not all mental illness is serious and incurable. Like any physical illnesses, mental disorders also have treatments and its' complications.
“If you are broken, you do not have to stay broken.”
— Selena Gomez 🌼
Treatments for mental illness
There are many different mental disorders, with different presentations. They are generally characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others.
According to WHO, main mental disorders include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, and autism. This is just a few among the variety of mental illnesses explained in the International Classification of Mental Disorders and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM–5)
After years of research and experiments, different treatments were found to reverse the effects of mental illnesses. Some of the effective treatment methods are:
Most of you must have heard about therapies! Therapies are getting famous and people are accepting the concept of therapy more than before. Therapy mostly includes an interactive session between a therapist and a client (a person presenting a problem) in which the therapist helps the client to help himself/herself. The most important point to be understood is that the therapist doesn't solve your problems, but just guide you to do the same for yourself. Depending on the severity of the problem and the type of therapy, there can be 6-12 sessions during the therapy process. Once you "fix" yourself, you might learn how to cope with similar stressors in the future.
Therapies are not done only when you have serious psychological or emotional problems alone, but you can do therapy even when you have mild stressors. It can help you in maintaining your mental health before any serious damage. There are different types of therapy like:
• Cognitive- behavioural therapy
• Behavioural therapy
• Humanistic therapy
• Family/ group/ couple therapy
Some new forms of therapies like:
• Arts therapy
• Drama therapy
• Dance therapy
• Animal-assisted therapy etc.
Thanks to medical developments! We do have different medications due to the clinical breakthroughs occurring on a regular basis. There are different classes of medications for treating different types of mental disorders. This treatment should be approached by someone if and only if he/she faces great difficulties due to the mental illness. These drugs will have major effects on the brain and can even have mild to severe side effects. Always, treating severe mental disorders by psychoactive drugs and one form of therapy simultaneously can be more effective. Different psychoactive drugs classifications are:
• Antipsychotic drugs
• Antianxiety drugs
Electro convulsive therapy or "the shock treatment" is also used in the treatment of severe mental disorders. This is a very rare process these days as it comes with severe side effects and it is applied only in the cases of severe depression or patients with severe psychotic symptoms.
Mindfulness practice is not a treatment in particular, but it is a way to promote