What is Mental Health?
Mental health according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (2020) includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Over the last few years, the issue of mental health awareness has taken centre stage globally, this year (2021) alone has seen global superstars such as Lawn Tennis legend Naomi Osaka and gymnastics icon Simone Biles withdrew from Wimbledon and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games respectively citing poor mental health conditions. The withdrawal of both internationally acclaimed superstars was met with a lot of criticism both locally and internationally, with both superstars being labelled “Weak and Spineless”. However, the sudden withdrawals by both superstars from global events of such magnitude further shed the light on the importance of mental health and that even some of the greatest performers on the planet experience this particular challenge.
Footballers such as Tyrone Mings who plies his trade with Aston Villa football club in the English Premier League has since come out to reveal publicly about the mental health problems he experienced at the just concluded UEFA EURO 2020 tournament. The tournament held in different cities across Europe to curtail the spread of COVID-19, with more and more public figures coming out to speak about their mental health struggles has helped raise awareness concerning the reality of mental health problems.
The World Health Organisation recognises the tremendous impact of mental health awareness and aligns with the advocation of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. WHO also recognises that one of the major outcomes of declining mental health is depression, which doubles as one of the leading causes of disability. As a matter of fact, in 2019, 700,000 people died from suicide. More people died from suicide than from illnesses like HIV, Malaria, War, Homicide or Breast cancer. It calculates that at least one in 100 deaths are from suicide. Among young people, those aged 15-29 are more prone to depression and suicidal thoughts than every other age bracket. This information is helping the WHO develop strategies and policies in collaboration with different governments to map out programmes that can aid reclining mental health in young people, as well as advocacies for prevention and care.
Types of Mental Health Disorders
Generally, most people feel uncomfortable whenever the word “disorder” is introduced to the conversations on mental health. For them, disorders refer to extreme insanity, utter mental degradation, madness, needing urgent and frequent psychiatric help. However, softer definitions only mean deviations from the norm. It is this mindset that often makes people overlook mild deviations from the norm. Little depressions here and there, a little and unattended dissatisfaction in oneself, an overlooked self-hate and low self-esteem, an ignored abuse, a misunderstood stress symptoms, an ignored rest, and so on. All of these “littles” eventually metamorphose into situations that are seemingly more complicated to navigate, hence resulting in extreme decisions and implications like suicide and disability.
Some of the prevalent types of mental health challenges including but are not limited to;
- Mood disorders
- Anxiety disorder
- Personality disorder
- Psychotic disorder (Schizophrenia)
- Eating disorder
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
A little highlight on some of the above-mentioned disorders.
Mood disorders. This disorder is a direct hit on the emotional state of an individual. Oftentimes toned down in the guise of “mood swings” to make jest of people. This, however, is also one of the overlooked “littles”. Mood disorders reflect a mental situation where a person experiences long periods of extreme happiness or extreme sadness, or in some unique cases, both (Cleveland Clinic, 2018). According to medical professionals, mood disorders produce two varying types of disorders: Depression and Bipolar disorder (Cleveland Clinic, 2018). Depression grows from situations of grieve, hurt, pain, loss of a close relative, missed opportunities, and many more. These events of misfortune tend to leave a dent on a person’s emotional stability causing unrest and instability, this leading to depression, disabilities, and sometimes, death. Some types of depression include Postpartum depression (predominantly in women during or after pregnancy), Persistent depressive disorder (an extreme kind of depression that can span over two years or more). It is also known as dysthymia. Seasonal affective disorders (SAD) are also another prevailing type of disorder that is season-sensitive. Psychotic depression has some drama attached, like hallucinations and delusions.
Bipolar disorders on the other hand is a range of mood swings switching from depressive lows to some maniac highs. It often makes such persons widely unpredictable and difficult to work with. It could be in either of these levels of intensity;
Bipolar 1, this type of disorder is often the worst type of bipolar. It is often characterised by at least seven days of maniacs and up to two weeks of depression. Bipolar 2, and Cyclothymia are two other variants of Bipolar disorders but are on lower levels of intensity than Bipolar 1. They are more like the developing stages of bipolar disorders.
A few Causes of Poor Mental Break Health:
- Abuse: Abuse is one of the major causes of mental breakdown and it can come from parents, a spouse or even a mentor. Victims of abuse, particularly physical abuse such as rape, end up living lives of doubt and insecurity. They basically become a shadow of themselves. Now with the emergence of social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, abuse has moved on to a whole new level with the emergence of “Keypad Warriors”. Online Abuse has rocked the footballing world with the emergence of social media platforms particularly Instagram, with racist abuse being recorded everyday a football match is played. Currently, footballers who ply their trade in England take a knee before every match in protest to racist abuse which mostly happens online.
- Stress and Trauma: Stress is also another cause of poor mental Health. When one has to multi-task and juggle different tasks such as work and family, sometimes it can get overwhelming and can lead to a total burn out which can lead to a mental breakdown. In other situations, traumatic experiences have also been found to be one of the leading causes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). It often erupts after people have been through extremely though and hedious situations and experiences in their personal lives. It could be from first party experiences or third party experiences. Examples could be the untimely death of a beloved, witnessing an accident, or any gross tragic events.
- Family History: studies across different age demographics over periods of time have shown that in some cases, people who have situations of mental health challenges in their lineage are prone to just as much risk. Although it depends on the type of mental health challenge in discussion. Chronic cases are more likely to reoccur than mild cases of disorder.
Some Signs of Poor Mental Health:
- Recurring Weakness: This is a very common sign of poor mental health, people who are experiencing poor mental health usually have little or no energy to perform their various daily tasks, it’s almost like they don’t care about anything whatsoever. Things that once fascinated them suddenly loses all value and thrill in their eyes. This is the case with Naomi Osaka the tennis superstar. When she withdrew from Wimbledon earlier this year, she didn’t find Tennis to be so interesting anymore.
- Reckless Dieting: Another way poor mental health manifests is in the area of eating too much or too little. A couple of people who have gained excessive weight or lost excessive weight have attributed it to their poor mental health. They suddenly balance out their weight once their mental health is intact.
- Depression: Poor mental health is always accompanied by feelings of helplessness. The feeling of hopelessness which they can’t control has sent many to their early graves very early because they feel like everything is conspiring against them.
- Self-harm: Nobody in their normal or natural mind will ever intentionally do anything that will harm him or herself. However, some people with a poor mental health can be found harming or trying to harm themselves from time to time, they do this as a way to punish themselves for their own misfortunes or wrongs. At this stage suicide is not very far away. Suicide rates has risen in different parts of the world with some people preferring to end their lives as a result of their poor mental health.
Benefits of Positive Mental Health:
- Working Productively: A positive mental health can and definitely makes all the difference in a person’s life. The difference between a poor mental health and a positive mental health is definitely like trying to compare night and day, which of course, is totally incomparable. A person with a positive mental health can thrive productively in a work environment and can definitely take on more tasks to enhance the overall growth on his or her work place. People with a poor mental health are a liability, first to themselves, then to their workplace and other immediate environment.
- Optimisim towards life challenges: A person with a positive mental health is well equipped to handle the challenges that everyday life brings ranging from work to parenting. Challenges are part of life and they manifest in different forms. A positive mental health is essentially the difference between winning and losing in life. A person with a poor mental health will always be under the circumstances every single time because they lack the mental ability to lift their head or heads above any situation and circumstance.
- Self discovery: Life generally asks people questions, with answers that may reflect the level of attainable success or failure or stagnation. A person with a poor mental health will most likely not realize his/her potential because they are mostly having no energy to do anything productive, they are busy feeling numb like nothing matters at all. Therefore, their time is not spent on productive or constructive ventures. Unlike a Person with a positive mental health who is mentally prepared to take on the challenges of life and realize his or her potential.
- Societal impact: It is said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, meaning a person cannot give what he or she doesn’t have. Contributing to society take a very conscious effort of wanting to make an impact in your society. It involves sacrifice, diligence and doggedness to impact society. It takes a person with a positive mental health to be able to take advantage of different opportunities and make positive impact to society. A person with a poor mental health will not be able to contribute to his/her society. If care is not taken such a person will probably become a nuisance to society entirely.
Initiatives to tackle challenges facing the mental health
Given the multifaceted nature of mental health illnesses or disorders, it is important to recognize that there needs to be different approaches to helping people in different situations. Some of them are enlisted as follows:
- Medications: Anti-depressants medications like sertraline, citalopram, fluoxetine, escitalopram, and paroxetine are some of the top medical recommendation for extreme cases of bipolar disorders. They are taken based on the prescriptions of an expert after thorough examination.
- Psychotherapy: this refers to the process or stages of meeting with a psychotherapist. This often involves a long period of talking to someone who is interested in helping the patient navigate the hurdles of the illness. The therapy sessions can be in three categories of cognitive-behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, or problem solving therapy.
- Brain stimulation therapies: This therapy differs from mere talking by employing the use of medical advancements in technology to stimulate some chemicals and neurons in the brain, in the hope to cause them to redirect how they act. Some of the ways this is done is through the Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). This, in a short tell, involves using an electronic machine to transmit electronic charges to the brain in a bid to re-awaken dead or dormant brain cells. It is usually carried out once or twice a week as the case may be. Alternatively, Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is adopted to transmit dosages of electromagnetic pulses to nerves in the brain. I would be glad to hear how this article has been helpful to you. Send All Request & Donations To: 2288 Gunbarrel Rd. Suite 154/388, Chattanooga/TN 37421 Our Cash App: $LoyalDetermined