Mental health disability is on the rise. The American Journal of Public Health recently reported a study which shows a 2.7% increase in self reported mental health disability among the non-elderly. The researchers attributed this increase to the impact of factors including socioeconomics and mental health literacy. It is also well known that people with chronic diseases are more prone to mental illness. This speaks to a growing need for mental health evaluation and treatment but most of all prevention. Well that’s a easy one. Every body just stop what you are doing; take a deep breath; and just relax! Well anyone who has ever suffered from clinical Depression or Anxiety will tell you ’ it is not quite that easy’.
You may have heard of the Social Economic Determinants of Health. This concept speaks to the many factors in our environment outside of our physical bodies that attribute to our health. When it comes to Mental health the stressors of our day to day environment can be taxing on the mind. Have you ever had a bad day at work? How about your significant other and your kids? Do you owe the IRS? Are you poor? Are you in a situation that you can not get out? These are simple questions with sometimes complicated answers and often result in mental complications such as feeling overwhelmed. Life stressors are compounded by how we perceive and deal with our stress. For some of us we are able to remove that stress by changing our physical environment. However, some are not economically fit to do so. The most difficult thing to change is the way that you think and internalize the many stressors that impact your body and mind.
Some of you who are reading this article may have experienced or have family who have been diagnosed with more acute mental illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia. All we have to do is look out our car windows and see the effects of mental illness on our communities. The daily news documents the disastrous outcomes of mental illness as we see individuals do hideous deeds in our community. Some mental illnesses can not be prevented and can only be treated with medication but it is very important that we are able to get the proper evaluations in order to make sure that everyone has access to treatment.
There is no one solution but it starts on an individual basis before we can make changes for the population. Proper exercise, diet and life style is a start. Do all you can to place yourself in a healthy environment. Give yourself relaxation time and be conscious of how you deal with stressful situations and alter your behavior to decrease the stress. Self-medication with drugs and Alcohol is not the answer and seek help from your physician if you believe you need help..
What’s my purpose for today? To bring forth an issue in medicine that is too often swept under the rug. Mental Illness is under diagnosed by providers and often unrecognized by families. It is often something we hope will just go away. We often are fast and efficient when it comes to our children. However, we are slow to recognize and tend to hesitate when problems arise in adults. Medical coverage for mental illness and disabilities is often inadequate and indirectly encourages the lack of attention that is given this type of illness. In most states, the hospital systems for mental and behavioural health are overwhelmed. So we can do our part by first taking care of our own mental health; talk to your physician about it. Also be aware of mental breakdowns, alcohol and drug abuse among your family, friends, and colleagues and get help where you can. Let’s all be more aware.