Importance of Mental Health

Health is important for development of the country. World health Organization (WHO ) defines health as “ a state of physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being and not merely the absence of  disease or infirmity”.  WHO defines mental health as mental well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.  In this positive sense, mental health is the foundation for individual well-being and the effective functioning of a community.

Mental health has impact on

  1. Educational out come
  2. Productivity at work
  3. Development of Positive personal relationships
  4. Crime rate
  5. Alcohol & drug abuse

More than 450 million people suffer from mental disorders.  According to WHO, by the year 2020, depression will constitute the second largest disease burden worldwide (Murray & Lopez, 1996).  Global burden of mental health will be well beyond the treatment capacities of developed and developing countries.  The social and economic costs associated with growing burden of mental ill health focused the possibilities for promoting mental health as well as preventing and treating mental illness. Thus the Mental Health is linked to behaviour and seen as fundamental to physical health and quality of life.

Why is mental health important?

  1. Physical health and mental health are closely associated and it is proved beyond doubt that depression leads to heart and vascular diseases
  2. Mental disorders also affect persons health behaviour like eating sensibly, regular exercise, adequate sleep, engaging in safe sexual practices, alcohol and tobacco use, adhering to medical therapies thus increasing the risk of physical illness.
  3. Mental ill health also leads to social problems like unemployment, broken families, poverty, drug abuse and related crime.
  4. Poor mental health plays a significant role in diminished immune functioning.
  5. Medically ill patients with depression have worse outcome than those without.
  6. Chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, heart disease increases the risk of depression

What are the difficulties in implementation of mental health programmes?

  1. Stigma is associated with mental illness and patients are discriminated in the society in all aspects like education, employment, marriage etc, which leads to delay in seeking medical advice.
  2. Vagueness in concepts of mental health and illness, with lack of definitive signs and symptoms which result in diagnostic confusion.
  3. People feel that mental illnesses occur in those who are mentally weak or due to spirits
  4. Many people are in the opinion that mental illness is irreversible that lead to therapeutic nihilism.
  5. Many people believe that preventive measures are unlikely to succeed.
  6. Many people believe that drugs used to treat mental illness may cause many side effects and leads to addiction. They feel that these drugs merely induce sleeping.
  7. Data collected by WHO demonstrated that there is large gap  between burden caused by mental health problems and the resources available in countries to prevent and treat them.
  8. In most parts of the world, the treatment of mental illness was alienated from rest of medicine and health care until recently.
  9. Psychiatric patients and their families fail to act like pressure groups as they are reluctant to come together because of severe social stigma and lack of knowledge about their rights.
  10. Even Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) consider this as a difficult field as it needs long term commitment and they are scared to deal with mentally handicapped.

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