Ethical understanding of mental health hygiene and illness
What is mental health?
Mental health is the level of psychological wellbeing or an absence of mental illness. From the perspective of positive psychology, it may include one’s ability to enjoy life, to create a balance between activities of life and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. According to WHO, mental health includes ‘subjective wellbeing, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence and self-actualization of one’s intellectual and emotional potential among others.” Every year, on 10th October, World Mental Health Day is celebrated which was started by the world federation for mental health by deputy secretary-general of UNO. Mental health resources differ from one country to another, from one person to another. According to Bertrand Russell, it is a “sense of proportions”, or integrity.
A healthy individual is not only physically healthy but also mentally healthy. In fact, being mentally healthy is much more important to succeed in life. Mental health has three conditions. These are the full and free expression of our potentials, integration and fulfillment of the native potentialities through socially acceptable means, and remaining happy in work. Mental health is not the mere absence of mental illness. It is a social factor. Every society has its own rules, regulations, norms of behavior as well as limitations. Mental health also depends on emotional behavior, habit and attitude of the concerned individual. Each and every member of society must have perfect mental health.
Mental health is a program or training by which the individual is trying to adjust to internal and external demands. A mentally healthy person is a responsible person, and well aware of others’ needs. They are confident about their ability and do not run-away from problems, rather they try to solve them. They have a specific aim, and they drive their motivation, energy, creativity to fulfill that aim. In brief, mental health is a condition that permits the maximum development of the physical, intellectual and emotional state of the individual.
Conditions of good mental health
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Good physical health- A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. One must possess good physical health in order to achieve good adjustment with the environment.
Satisfactory social relation- It is a condition of a mentally healthy person.
Intimacy- Every person always needs one person to whom she/he can unfold her/his mind, discuss the problems.
Insight- Mentally healthy person has insight into her/his conduct. She/he improves her/his behavior on the basis of self-examination.
Philosophy of life- The healthy person has her/his own philosophy of life.
Nature of mental hygiene
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The mental hygiene movement was started with the foundation of the National Committee of Mental Hygiene (1909) in the USA. The mental hygiene program helps the individual to attain the criteria of good mental health. It is said that mental hygiene is the prevention of non-integrated adjustment and the restoration of the mental living of persons who already suffer from them.
So mental hygiene is a measure to reduce the incidents of mental illness through the prevention and early treatment. In the broadest sense, the aim of mental hygiene is to help all persons to achieve a happier, more harmonious and more effective life. The scope of mental hygiene is not limited to the work of clinics or to the diagnosis and treatment of persons who are already maladjusted.
There are different forms of mental hygiene such as Preventive mental hygiene, Ameliorative mental hygiene and supporting mental hygiene. There are different sources of the problem of mental hygiene such as anxious parents of normal children must have proper knowledge of the developmental stage of the children, children with deviational developments of intellectual and physical, and children who are unhappy, fearful, anxious and unpopular.
Mental hygiene starts with the training of the parents to teach them to create a warm psychological environment for the children. Training for the care of wholesome development of children by proper prenatal and postnatal development. Improving home climate, school atmosphere, teacher-student relationships all are included under the scope of mental hygiene.
Mental illness and its varieties & effects
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Mental health and mental illness are increasingly being used as if they mean the same thing. But they do not. Everyone has mental health. But in the course of a lifetime, not all people will experience a mental illness. They will struggle or have a challenge with their mental wellbeing. Mental illness affects the way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others. There are many different mental illnesses, and they have different symptoms that impact people’s lives in different ways. The common thing among them is that they all affect a person’s emotions, thoughts, behaviors like how they see themselves, see the world around themselves. There are different kinds of mental illness which include Mood disorders that disrupt one’s mood and emotions. Depression and bipolar disorder are examples of mood disorders,
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness. They cause you to experience unexpected anxiety or cause you to be fearful of situations or events that most people consider normal. Panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are anxiety disorders.
Psychotic disorders affect your ability to sense what’s real and what isn’t (this is called psychosis). Schizophrenia, the most common psychotic disorder, also makes it difficult for people to think, speak and interact in an organized way.
Eating disorders involve a distorted body image along with serious behaviors to manage food and weight, making it difficult to nourish yourself properly. Examples of eating disorders include anorexia and bulimia.
Personality disorders affect the way you feel, act, and form relationships with others. They can also cause people to be more impulsive. A borderline personality disorder is an example of a personality disorder.
Substance use disorders (commonly called addictions) occur when you become dependent on a substance such as alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs or sex objects.
Dementia involves the loss of brain cells and results in loss of memory, judgment and reasoning, along with changes in mood, behavior and communication abilities (beyond what might be seen in normal aging). Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be diagnosed in adults but is usually found in children and youth. It affects your ability to focus your attention. It may also include hyperactivity, which is when you become easily over-excited.
This illness can affect any person such as youth, women, older adults, people with chronic illness or disabilities, refugees etc. Young girls and boys experience many different changes, both physically and socially. A major concern for young people is that mental health problems may be treated as “just a phase” or simply not recognized as a real problem. Women are more likely than men to experience a mental illness, but problem substance use is more common in men. Women are often more likely to seek help for their problems than men, so mental illness in men may be highly under-reported. Men and women tend to show symptoms of mental illnesses differently.
Older adults may experience an increased risk of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety disorders. Health problems, loss of a loved one, and a shrinking circle of friends are all possible triggers for this. The risk of illness like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias increases with aging.
People with disabilities or chronic illnesses may experience a higher risk of anxiety and depression. Examples of chronic illnesses are diabetes, asthma and heart disease. Disabilities can include anything from brain injury to cerebral palsy. Pain, worry, challenges with daily living may all be stressful effects of chronic conditions. Around 33% of the world population with chronic conditions experience depression. Refugees may experience higher rates of mental illness such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the stressful events that forced them to flee their homeland and the difficulties involved in moving to a new country.
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We should take preventive measures to reduce mental illness. One thing to keep in mind about mental illness is that the people who have it cannot just “snap out of it.” There are many treatments available for mental illness, and full recovery is often possible. The kind of treatment that works best for you will depend on your situation and is best discussed with a doctor or other health care provider.
Often people find a combination of approaches works best for them. One way of doing so is medication. There many different types of mental health medications, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, stimulants, anti-anxiety medications, and others. If you have good hobbies like traveling, sports, music, gardening, Yoga you can easily get out of these new-age mental problems. Counselling also helps in this case.
There are different types of counseling. Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT—helps you look at the way your thoughts, actions, and behaviors work together. It’s a common first choice for depression and anxiety, and it has been adapted to help with other mental health problems. Interpersonal therapy or IPT—Helps you look at your relationships, and helps with specific life issues like grief or conflict. Dialectical behavior therapy or DBT—Combines CBT with mindfulness, awareness, acceptance, and other skills. Self-help and change in lifestyle can also work in a good way. Exercising regularly, eating well, managing stress, following healthy sleep patterns, increasing social activities, managing the way we use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, recognizing situations that may trigger illness, these all can help people fight with mental illness.
There's no sure way to prevent mental illness. However, if we have a mental illness, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and to boost low self-esteem may help keep your symptoms under control.