Mental Health: The Facts

Mental Health is defined as one’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and it is expressed by one’s actions, thoughts, and feelings (mentalhealth.gov, 2017). In recent years there has been much advancement in how society perceives mental health, slowly removing the stigma often associated with those dealing with mental and behavioral health issues. Treatments for mental health have also evolved, and there is much more awareness today than just a decade ago. Mental Health has become a priority for many public health advocates and yet still remains a topic with many gaps in knowledge (Jablensky, 2013).

According to mentalhealth.gov (2017), some myths of mental health include: children don’t experience mental health issues; people diagnosed with mental health issues are all violent and extremely unpredictable; people with mental health cannot hold a job; people who have mental health are weak; there is no hope for the mental health population; it is useless to try and help someone with mental illness; it is impossible to prevent mental health; and much more. Mental health has suffered a negative stigma for centuries despite the facts surrounding all these myths being quite the opposite. For instance, every year approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental illness (National Alliance on Mental Health, 2018). Also, research shows that mental health disorders begin to show signs before a child turns 14 years old, with three quarters showing symptoms before the age of 24.  Yet, less than 20% actually receive any kind of treatment (mentalhealth.gov, 2017).  Addressing mental health in the workforce is also a growing priority.  Employees who suffer from a mental illness that receive adequate treatment are known to be as productive as another employee with a healthy mental status (mentalhealth.gov, 2017).

Treatments for mental illness have evolved. In the 18th century, when very little was known about mental illness, treatment included being thrown into an asylum and kept away from society (dualdiagnosis.org, n.d). In the 19th century, the United States had the first asylum that offered treatments such as cold baths, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT); surprisingly these treatments were still utilized until 1995 (dualdiagnosis.org, n.d). Antipsychotic medications first became available in 1954. It was not until 1963 that Congress passed the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act, signed into law by President John F. Kennedy, which began the deinstitutionalization movement and allowed funds and federal support to be allocated to community mental health centers (The National Council, 2018).

Today, safe, appropriate mental health treatments include psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, among others) , or therapeutic treatments that helps an individual learn and explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors more in-depth together. Psychotherapy combined with appropriately prescribed medication has shown to be very effective in treating mental illness (Mental Health America, 2015). In addition, case management, support groups, self-help plans, peer support, prescribed medication, and art therapy are also evidence-based approaches to help people struggling with a mental health disorder (Mental Health America, 2015). One can benefit from one or often a combination of different treatment approaches.

Mental health is an essential component of an individual’s overall well-being and should be viewed equal to maintaining physical health. Every day one may encounter various daily life struggles that can be overwhelming and can affect one’s mental health. For instance, a young adult may be struggling with balancing their classes and their social life, at the same time another young adult could be struggling with two jobs trying to make ends meet. Life has a way to throw the unexpected when we least expect it, but making daily simple evidence-based behavioral changes can help one maintain healthy mental health. According to the Mental Health Foundation (2018), talking to someone about your feelings; keeping active and eating well; drinking alcoholic beverages sensibly; keeping in touch with a friends; asking for help; taking necessary breaks; caring for others; accepting who you are; and doing something that you are good at and makes you happy, are all ways to improve or maintain a good mental health. Making just one change a day will not only improve or maintain your mental health but can also help at the interpersonal level of the socioecological model by impacting your friends, family, and peers. IT ONLY TAKES ONE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

 

 

References:

History of Mental Health Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved July 19, 2018, from https://www.dualdiagnosis.org/mental-health-and-addiction/history/

Jablensky, A. (2013, June 12). Treatment gaps and knowledge gaps in mental health. Retrieved July 16, 2018, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118337981.ch25

Mental Health. (2017). Retrieved July 16, 2018, from https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/mental-health-myths-facts

Mental Health America. (2015, August 20). Mental Health Treatments. Retrieved July 19, 2018, from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/types-mental-health-treatments

Mental Health Foundation. (2018, February 08). How to look after your mental health. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health

National Alliance on Mental Health. (2018). Mental Health By The Numbers. Retrieved July 17, 2018, from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

The National Council. (2018). Community Mental Health Act. Retrieved July 19, 2018, from https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/about/national-mental-health-association/overview/community-mental-health-act/