World Mental Health Day 2010

by Savitha C Muppala on  October 9, 2010 at 3:12 PM Health In Focus
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It takes two to tango; likewise good health is the result of the harmonious balance between body and mind. Any disturbance in the mind reflects on the body causing physical illness, and likewise, chronic physical illness triggers mental disturbances. Therefore, the underlying cause of illnesses, mental or physical, rests on the subtle yet profound link between mind and body.

"Many people who have severe mental health problems have poorer health outcomes than the rest of the population and, people who are living with long-term physical conditions have a poorer mental health outcome."- World Health Organization.

World Mental Health Day which falls on October 10th, 2010, is an annual event to increase public awareness about mental health issues by educating people about different forms of illnesses and encouraging open discussions intended to dispel stigma about mental disorders, and find easy ways to improve treatment and services.

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2010 is "Mental Health and Long-term Illness: The Need for Continued and Integrated Care." The objectives for World Mental Health day 2010, seeks to address mental health problems of those suffering chronic physical illnesses, and physical health of those suffering from mental health issues through continued and integrated care.

Extensive research has shown that victims of chronic physical illnesses also suffer from mental health issues. This double blow of mental and physical health problems could lead to inconsistent access to health care. Stigma and discrimination worsen the situation. There still exists a yawning gap in the treatment of mental, neurological and substance use disorders more-so in underprivileged countries.  The World Health Organization has categorized four types of chronic physical illnesses - diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory illness. Statistics show that 60 per cent of deaths worldwide are attributed to these types of chronic illnesses.

Mind Your Body

Mental health issues have assumed greater importance today, as depression and anxiety seem to affect one out of four people, making it one of the most common mental health problems of the decade. Such problems of the mind impact the body negatively resulting in many forms of chronic physical illnesses.

Mental illness does not choose its victims. It can strike anyone, at any age, notwithstanding barriers of culture and geography. Nearly 450 million people worldwide are in the throes of mental health problems. Close to 154 million among them are battling depression; yet, we have a long way to go to see improvement in the numbers that actually seek professional help. 

• Close to 15 million people in India are battling serious mental health problems 

• Some 30 million are suffering mild forms of mental illnesses 

• Nearly 50% of victims suffering serious mental health disorders go untreated in India

Mental health issues of women and children also need due attention. According to a recent health report, close to 10% of children may be suffering from some form of mental disorder. Schools need to have a system where lurking mental health issues in children are brought to the notice of parents and professional help is sought. Ideally, school counselors and administrators can work collaboratively with mental health professionals to tackle the mental health needs of school students.

Mental illness is a hotbed of myths and misconceptions. The stigma surrounding mental illness exacerbates victims' plight, and many of them do not receive the much needed support from their families.  Many of the cases are pushed under the carpet due to the stigma associated with mental illness. Most of the people do not seek help as they would for other types of illnesses. When mental health problems go undetected, they begin to affect the body resulting in chronic physical illnesses.

Holistic Health

When illness strikes, it is an indication of imbalance between the body and mind. Many physical illnesses are the result of mental disorders, so unless the cause is understood, treatment may not have the desired effect.  Further, those suffering chronic physical illnesses, for instance cancer, also need help to cope with the illness and this is where the services of mental health professionals go a long way in improving health outcomes.

When the mind gives up, the body does too or when the body is weak, the mind follows suit... Therefore, the bottom line clearly is, that treatment and care for health problems need to be all encompassing, addressing the body and mind as one entity. Primary healthcare must adopt an integrated approach to health issues by looking at the body to heal the mind, and treating the mind to cure the body.

Source: Medindia

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