Mental health and wellness

Mental health may be considered an umbrella term for a continuum – with mental illness at one end and mental wellbeing at the other. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown has aggravated mental health issues worldwide.

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Equally, more people acknowledge the fundamental need to improve their mental health, increasing the need for more support schemes. Interestingly, most individuals still associate mental illness with the shame surrounding mental health issues, making it difficult for patients to get help and medical attention.

There are many reasons why mental wellbeing is essential. Not only is it protective against physical illnesses and linked to greater productivity, but the mental wellbeing of a population is necessary for a country’s sustainability, long-term growth and development.

Mental illness may describe various conditions, such as depression or anxiety, affecting their emotions, thinking, and behaviour (Figure 1). 

Even though depression, addictive behaviours, or personality disorders are often mocked as lazy, unmotivated or unproductive. Yet, mental health is vital as it is the foundation of our emotions, thinking, communication, learning, and self-esteem.

You may be familiar with the term resilience, which is how well you are coping with everyday stresses. But, on the other hand, a reduction is associated with distress and problems functioning normally in dealing with daily life or employment pressure. 

A common feature is that mental illness involves feeling bad and performing poorly at work or home.

Sometimes people are unaware of their condition, which can be very frustrating; hence, outlining some common forms of mental illness may become imperative. In addition, understanding mental health issues could increase awareness and reduce the stigma, encouraging more people to seek appropriate treatment.

Let’s start with depression.

Depression is a common mental illness characterised by depressed mood swings, loss of interest in daily life activities. It causes psychological and social distress, which might induce a change in brain function. 

In addition, specific circumstances can trigger other forms of depression that affects people from all walks of life, no matter their background.

It’s reckoned that 16.2 million adults in the United States, or seven per cent of American adults, have had at least one major depressive episode in a given year.

According to Mayo Clinic, a person can be identified as depressed when they experience persistent sadness, loss of interest in things, sleeping problems, appetite level changes, lack of concentration, and low self-esteem.

These could lead to suicidal thoughts. Sometimes social media can hurt depressed people because of the ‘perfect’ life others seem to be living while enhancing the sense of worthlessness in the patient.

Depression can also occur when individuals are going through difficult life situations like divorce, sickness, financial problems, bereavement and more. Depression can be cured through therapy wherein the patient is encouraged to share their worries with a therapist.

Anxiety Disorder

A person with an anxiety disorder constantly experiences an unpleasant state of mental uneasiness. It can be a feeling of worry and fear that is strong enough to interfere with their day-to-day lives. The symptoms of an anxiety attack or a panic attacks and post-traumatic stress (PSD) disorder. 

Anxiety disorder can result from the inability to set aside worries which leads to restlessness. On social media, young people share their life activities, cars, houses, and clothes. 

This causes other youths to think they are failures in life which may trigger self-esteem issues and anxiety. But what they fail to understand is that people only post the highlights of their real life and not when they feel down. 

This anxiety disorder can also be treated through therapy, abstaining from triggers like alcohol and social media.

Personality Disorder

Personality Disorder involves an unhealthy, inflexible and negative pattern of thoughts, actions and behaviours. 

Personality is the combination of thoughts, emotions and behaviours that makes a person unique; how a person views, understands and relates to the outside world. A person with this mental illness has trouble realising that they have a problem; this is because their way of thinking and acting seems natural to them. 

They are often unable to relate to the issues of others and blame people for misunderstanding them. This causes limitations in relationships, increasing isolation.

Personality Disorder can be hereditary, the environment a person grows in, traumatic experiences and the relationship a person has with family and others. We see that childhood experiences such as sexual abuse, verbal abuse are also some of these factors. Without treatment, a personality disorder can last for a very long time. A possible solution to this is to see a talk therapist and, if the case is critical, a medical doctor.

Addictive behaviours

Behavioural addiction is a type of obsession that involves a set of behaviours that a person becomes dependent on and craves despite any adverse consequences of the person’s physical, social, and, most importantly, mental wellbeing. 

Most youths and adults suffer from this addiction, but they do not realise this because it does not have the same physical risk that a person with drug or sex addiction has. 

Its symptoms include denial, missing work, school or significant events just because they want to stay at home online, fighting with friends and family, lack of sleep and self-care. People might find this routine unacceptable, but when the individual in question finds it challenging to stop doing these things, it is an addiction and needs to be managed professionally

If not, the individual might go through immense suffering. For example, people who have this disorder are likely to suffer headaches, neck and back pain. For this to be treated, the individual must acknowledge the problem and seek help from counsellors and therapists.

Enhancing your mental wellbeing

It is imperative to get help when needed to avoid deterioration. In addition, we should encourage our friends and family to take time to take more care of themselves by eating healthy, participating in physical exercise, mindfulness, and maintaining regular schedules, all help.

We should also always try to boost their self-esteem and explain to them that social media is just social media and life outside is complex; one has to be open to reality, accept what is, strive to be better, and do whatever, one can. 

Most of us have problems that aren’t visible, don’t assume everything is hunky-dory or even Yankee Doodle dandy if you’re a James Cagney fan. 

Economic assessments have focused on mental illness costs but not the significant savings that mental well-being could generate. 

Yet, mental wellbeing is predictive of physical health and longevity – for example, better immune function, essential in today’s pandemic environment. 

Thus, allowing individuals to become more physically active and recover from physical illness – including cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Tony

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