For many people, the term mental health is a term that is bandied about quite liberally to describe a bad day. It is not entirely clear what it is or what it means and for many it is synonymous with feeling down or sad. It is, in fact, a very complicated and misunderstood term for a range of conditions that can affect anybody, and which often go undiagnosed or noticed for many years. To help put it into perspective and explain what exactly mental health is, here are a few thoughts and ideas around the topic.
Not just for psychologists
There are many people who can help look after the state of a person’s mental health. Psychologists are just one of these people. Psychiatrists are also able to help. The difference here is that the latter is a medical doctor who uses medical interventions to treat a problem while the former uses therapy. But there are plenty of other people who can treat mental health issues ranging from social workers and occupational therapists to more esoteric fields. The point is that there are many mental health courses that can be done and that for everyone with mental health issues there is a different path and treatment plan that could work. In the same way that physical ailments can be treated in different manners, the same applies to mental health complaints.
Making a diagnosis
When it comes to physical health it is quite easy for the patient to recognise that there is a problem. Be it a broken arm, an ulcer or a kidney stone, the effects are easy to feel, and the patient will express these and take themselves off to be examined. With mental health, it is harder to recognise because the patient is often not aware of the fact that they are not feeling well. Many times, it falls to the friends or family to recognise a change in behaviour or demeanour and to flag this. Many mentally ill people refuse to recognise that they have a problem.
It is not just depression
Depression is not just feeling sad. We all have good days and bad days. And while you might be upset or down because your football team lost or because you failed to get a first-class pass in an exam, that doesn’t mean that you are depressed. Depression is a chemical state where the brain is not functioning properly due to an imbalance of its chemicals. An imbalance like this can led to a state of depression or euphoria – and in turn the term bipolar. But mental health is a phrase that describes a lot of other conditions as well. It is a catch-all that also encompasses conditions like autism, attention deficit disorder, dementia, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. These are just a handful of the conditions that fall into the mental health category. The point is that they are serious matters and they should not be taken lightly. Have sympathy for people who suffer from these conditions – it is not as easy as taking a pill and chilling out.