World Mental Health Day, an initiative by the World Federation for Mental Health, is a day for spreading awareness and for education and advocacy. On this day various organizations come together to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. World Mental Health Day is observed on 10th October every year, with a different theme each year. The theme for 2014 focuses on "Living with schizophrenia".
World Federation for Mental Health is a global organization with members in more than 150 countries worldwide. Various topics of mental health were taken up in the past to focus on, like "Older Adults", "Depression", "Mindfulness" and "Mealtimes". "Living with Schizophrenia" is the theme this year and focuses on treatment and management strategies of different types of schizophrenia.
AdvertisementDiagnosis of a mental health disorder is done after mental health assessment, based on performance skills, emotional behavior and many other parameters. Most of the mental health disorders are treatable conditions, and the stigma associated with a person with mental health diagnosis needs to be eradicated from the society.
Definition of Schizophrenia
The term schizophrenia encompasses a wide variety of symptoms that psychiatry has labeled as a disorder. Different types of schizophrenia are categorized based on the combination of symptoms present in the individual. The symptoms noticeable as the early signs of schizophrenia include
• Disturbances in sleep and appetite
• Flat or inconsistent feelings
• Speech could be peculiar or nonsensical
• Change in appearance and personal hygiene
• Persistent feelings of unreality
• Sudden unusual behaviour
• Referring general talks as being directed to self
• Viewing things in a different way or perceiving sound or smell in a different way
Symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions, hallucinations and disorganized speech and conversation. The person may show extreme apathy, lack of initiative, social withdrawal and emotional unresponsiveness.
A person with schizophrenia usually has difficulty in differentiating between real and imaginary things. However, most of such people are not violent or dangerous to others.
Genetics and some chemical changes in the body are attributed to be the possible causes of schizophrenia. Some chemicals in the brain, like serotonin and dopamine, are neurotransmitters and allow nerve cells to send messages to each other. An imbalance in these chemicals could cause disturbances in transmission of sensory signals and alter the reactions in the person with schizophrenia. Such a wrong information processing could be a possible explanation for delusions and hallucinations, the most important symptoms of schizophrenia. Complications of schizophrenia include depression, drug abuse and suicide.
The various types of schizophrenia are:
• Paranoid schizophrenia
• Catatonic schizophrenia
• Disorganized schizophrenia
• Residual schizophrenia
• Schizo-affective disorder
• Undifferentiated schizophrenia
Despite awareness that is spreading and the support services for persons affected with schizophrenia, about 1% of the world population is affected and most of them are neglected. The symptoms of schizophrenia usually appear during 13 to 25 years of age, often earlier in males than females. Schizophrenia cannot be cured with drugs; however, with proper treatment and care, most patients can lead a fulfilling life.
A person living with schizophrenia has to be motivated to overcome the symptoms that present. The person needs to realize that he must find ways to move forward with the impacts of the mental disorder to be managed and minimized. Recovery is not a cure, but it is necessary to accept what we cannot be and what we can do about it. It is a total change in the attitude and being fully positive about taking risks and learning from actions. A person with schizophrenianeeds to be encouraged to participate, believe that he can overcome the traumas and damage to his life and contribute to the community.
It is the attitude of the supportive people that fuels these beliefs of the person with schizophrenia. Appropriate and empowering support needs to be consistent for the patient to overcome the problems due to the mental illness.
World Mental Health Day offers a platform to increase awareness not only about the mental disorder, but also about the access to treatment and support groups. Various techniques of self-management and cognitive behavior therapy are discussed. Importance of peer support and monitoring physical health and use of medications and available treatment options also explained through different campaigns. Individuals and NGOs can contribute by holding talks, events or fundraising activities.
Mental health awareness focuses on eradicating the mental health stigma, thus empowering the person with mental illness to be integrated into the society.