What Does The Statement Actually Imply
The statement that mental illness is like any other medical illness implies that mental illness has a biological basis just like other medical illnesses and should be treated in the publics eye in a similar manner. The purpose of this article is not to present a philosophical or ideological argument in favour of or against a biological basis explaining mental illness, but rather to examine the clinical and public utility of presenting a dominant neurobiological model of mental illness to patients, their families and the public at large.
Employment And Mental Health
Mental health issues have had more of an impact on an individual’s ability to work than any other group of conditions. Workers who suffer from mental ill health dont often work at full capacity, as these problems impair their ability to do so. It causes approximately 40% of all days lost due to sickness, accounts for 40% of all days lost through claiming Incapacity Benefit and 23% of new claimants of the Disability Living Allowance2.
Mental health problems typically cause poor memory, impaired concentration, attention and fatigue3. If an individual is on medication to treat the mental health issues, it can make these problems worse. Depression, one of the most common mental health issues in the UK, was found to have a greater impact on productivity and time management than any other health problem. It rivals rheumatoid arthritis on having an impact on physical tasks4. Mental ill health can cause problems that act as barriers to jobs that involve a high amount of contact with the public and also high status occupations5.
Presenteeism – where an employee attends work but is less productive – can be caused by poor mental health. This problem can cause up to 60% of mental health related costs to businesses6. This could be because people who suffer from mental health issues dont show any symptoms and don’t want to prove that they have a problem because of the stigma surrounding it.
Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health First Aid is a national public education course. Its designed to teach people about the warning signs and risk factors of mental health issues. In the training, participants learn about treatments and approaches that can help people with mental health disorders.
This training program is made for people who regularly interact with patients in a healthcare setting. Through scenarios and role-playing, healthcare providers can learn how to help a person in crisis connect with professional and self-help treatment steps.
Physical exercise is great for your body. Dancing, swimming, walking, and jogging boost cardio health and strength. Theyre also great for your mind. Research shows they can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
However, there are also exercises you can do for your brain. These include:
- Striking a power pose. People who use power poses may see a temporary drop in feelings of social anxiety.
- Listening to calming music. A 2013 study of 60 women revealed that people who listen to relaxing music recover faster after stress than people who relax but do not listen to music.
- Practicing progressive muscle relaxation. This process involves tightening and then slowly relaxing various muscle groups. It may be combined with other techniques like listening to calming music or breathing exercises.
- Finding a yoga pose. One 2017 study showed that just two minutes of performing yoga poses can boost self-esteem and help increase bodily energy.
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Insights From The Placebo Effect
A mind-body link also is found in experiments where people with infections are given placebo treatments, which they think are the real thing. Even though the treatment has no medicinal effect, these volunteers report milder symptoms than those given no treatment.
The link also can work the other way once we have developed an infection. Volunteers who are given a symptomless infection feel more anxious and depressed for the next few hours than healthy volunteers. The infection also has a detrimental effect on their memory, lasting several hours.
Its also been found that happier people may be less likely to come down with colds.
Dr. Sheldon Cohen, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, suggests in his research that our susceptibility to infection can easily be altered by our lifestyle choices.
Dont smoke, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, try to reduce the stress in your life, and strengthen your interpersonal relationships, he advises.
Being depressed or anxious is linked to catching more infections and experiencing the symptoms more strongly. Of course, its possible that happier people might have a tendency to play down how bad they are actually feeling.
Media A Powerful Tool In Changing Attitudes
It will take time to change the publics opinion, but the media could be so powerful in changing our attitudes towards mental health, especially through social media campaigns such as Time to Change and Rethink Mental Illness. The media has been used to provide insight into the lives of sufferers before. A collaboration between Bryan Charnley and a journalist set out to illustrate his experiences of schizophrenia through self-portraits, whilst taking varying degrees of medication.
Tragically, it ended with Bryan taking his own life, but his haunting, and increasingly distressing paintings, live on.;Increasing our exposure to messages of support, reminding people that they are not alone and that there is no shame in suffering from mental health conditions, and providing them with information on how to get help is a vital step forward in reducing stigma.
So why is our gut reaction to mental health generally so negative? Is it purely due to misinformation and fear portrayed by the majority of the media coverage? Can we combat the stigma with our rapidly increasing understanding of the biological basis of these diseases?
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Learned Optimism Vs Learned Helplessness
Optimism is a world view that interprets situations and events as being optimal, or favorable. Learned optimism refers to the development of ones potential for this optimized outlook; it is the belief that one can influence the future in tangible and meaningful ways. Research shows that optimism correlates with physical health, including a lower likelihood of cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression, and cancer. It also correlates with emotional health, as optimists are more hopeful, have an increased sense of peace;and well-being, and embrace change. Furthermore, optimists have been shown to live healthier lifestyles and utilize more positive coping mechanisms, both of which may lower the risk of disease.
A New Study Casts Doubt On The Power Of Positive Thinking
In a 1976 New England Journal of Medicine article called “Anatomy of an Illness,” Norman Cousins, then the erudite editor of the Saturday Review, described how he had cured himself of spinal arthritis by adopting a healthy mental attitude, laughing a lot and taking vitamin C. Other diseases, Cousins implied, might also succumb to positive thinking. The article struck a responsive chord. It was reprinted in other medical journals, supported by letters to Cousins from some 3,000 doctors, and eventually expanded by the author into a briskly selling 1979 book of the same name. Despite complaints from other doctors who studied…
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Disorders Of Later Development
Another group of disorders with relatively low prevalence and high heritability, such as bipolar disorder, OCD, and schizophrenia , are rare in childhood and typically onset during late adolescence or early adulthood, suggesting that they might involve mutations in GRNs governing the transition to sexual maturity. From an evolutionary perspective, sexual maturation involves a number of relatively new social and environmental challenges, such as intrasexual competition for mates, management of mating relationships, increased contributions to subsistence, increased autonomy, increased influence on group decisions, and increased childcare responsibilities. Physiologically, sexual maturation in females involves the onset of ovulation, breast development, widening of the hips, and increases in body fat, and in males increases in muscle mass, lowering of voice pitch, and appearance of facial hair . Cognitively, this transition involves enhancements in abstract and hypothetical thinking , processing speed, theory of mind, and perspective taking .
10.2.1 Obsessivecompulsive disorder
10.2.2 Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
As biocultural anthropologist Allen argued, schizophrenia appears to involve genetic disruption of the social competencies required for a successful transition to adult life in traditional societies, with, in the Palauan case at least, particularly negative consequences for men.
10.2.3 Eating disorders
A Critique Of The Theoretical Foundations Of The Dominant Psychiatric Research Paradigm
Critics from within medicine, psychiatry, and related fields are calling attention to the failure of psychiatric research to improve public health. Many critics argue that this failure is due, in large part, to fundamental flaws in the classification of mental disorders based on the DSM, and that psychiatric nosology is undergoing a crisis of confidence .
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Aversive But Possibly Adaptive Defenses
MDD, anxiety disorder, and PTSD have relatively low heritability , indicating that environmental factors play a large role. In fact, as we reviewed earlier, some of the genetic heritability of these disorders includes the heritability of their environmental risk factors, such as divorce, so the role of environmental variation might be even larger than it seems. These disorders are also quite common. As we discussed earlier, when DSM-III criteria, which were developed within patient populations, were applied to community populations, they produced surprisingly high prevalence rates, raising concerns of false positives. In adults, depression, anxiety and PTSD commonly onset at any age in apparent response to various forms of adversity . In conflict-affected countries, an estimated one in five people suffers from depression, PTSD, anxiety disorders, and other disorders, compared to 1 in 14 worldwide . Because many of their symptoms seem to be functional responses to threats, the hypothesis that they are functional responses to adversity is compelling. In fact, early on, prominent mental health researchers grappling with these high prevalence rates suggested exactly this .
Hyping Biological Nature Of Mental Illness Worsens Stigma
These days, calls to end the stigmatization of mental illness have become routine. And who could argue with that? People with serious mental illness are by definition suffering. Why would we want to add to that by deeming them disgraceful as well?
So goes the thinking behind an effort to change mental illness attitudes through “Mental Health Literacy” essentially teaching people to recognize and understand mental illness as a biological or genetic condition rather than a psychosocial one in order to, we’re told, reduce the burden of stigma.
Problem is, I can find no solid evidence this reduces stigma.
John Read, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of East London, reviewed the literature a decade ago to determine the effect of this approach on the perception of schizophrenia and those who have it. Mr. Read and his co-authors found that, in fact, a belief in “bio-genetic” explanations for schizophrenia and the necessity of pharmaceutical management for it leads to increased pessimism in the chances of recovery and a greater desire to avoid contact with persons so labeled.
Moreover, the few studies that have assessed public attitudes toward the mentally ill over time have shown these attitudes have actually gotten worse as acceptance of bio-genetic theories of mental illness has increased.
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Causes And Effects Of Discrimination
Many factors lead to discrimination. Major examples include:
Fear: Such as the fear of violence and the fear of the issues themselves because they affect our mind and behaviour. Some fears may be reinforced in the media
Untrue beliefs: Such as the belief that people cant recover or the belief that people cant participate in their communities
Blame and self-blame: People may be blamed for their conditions or problem substance use and viewed as weak. People with mental illnesses or substance use problems, and their loved ones, may also deeply blame themselves
Discrimination affects all areas of living. It can prevent people from getting or having basic things that most of us take for granted, like:
Getting hired, promoted or keeping a job
Finding or keeping a place to live in a safe, accepting community
Getting proper health care
Immigrating to another country
Feeling positive about ourselves
Discrimination may also affect families and friends. Others may dismiss their concerns. In many cultures, the entire family carries their loved ones stigma because they strongly identify as a group. As a result, family members may not confide in friends or others in their support network.
Increased Exposure To Emfs
All smartphones and all other digital devices, which have exponentially increased since 2007, emit a low-energy form of radiation called EMF radiation.
Research has recently started linking EMF radiation to adverse biological effects in the body, such as a suppressed immune system, cell damage and mutation, activation of voltage-gated calcium channels , cellular stress response and DNA breakage, and interference with cell communication, which happens via electrical impulses.
These changes at the cellular level can influence and shift entire processes in the body, and directly interfere with hormone and neurotransmitter levels.
For example, exposure to EMFs activates VGCCs in your brain. These channels basically control the physiological functions of the cell through cellular signal transduction. VGCCs help the release of neurotransmitters in the brain and the release of hormones by neuroendocrine cells.
However, when VGCCs are overstimulated from an external source, such as when they are activated by EMFs, they disrupt the normal function of the cell. In fact, the increased calcium that enters the cells due to EMFs may be connected to Autism.
In one study, researchers looked at the effects of EMF exposure on neurotransmitters in newborn rats. The results showed that increased cell phone radiation caused coinciding increases in Histamine, Dopamine, Adrenaline, and Noradrenaline. There was also a significant decrease in Serotonin and Melatonin. What does this mean?
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Imaging And Other Biomarkers Of Mental Disorders
There are no biological tests for the diagnosis of mental disorders. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Dexamethasone Suppression Test showed promise as a biomarker of depression that predicted drug response, but further large studies found low-to-moderate specificity and sensitivity, and limited clinical utility . Neuroimaging measures also show potential. Functional MRI and PET can resolve blood flow in voxels as small as 1mm3, and numerous studies show statistical differences in neural activity between patients and controls. But these differences are not yet sensitive or reliable enough to serve as diagnostic tools , perhaps because 1mm3 of brain tissue contains a complex network of 6070,000 neurons and tens to hundreds of millions of synaptic connections that is essentially invisible with current technology.
What Is The Mind
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Well-educated, slender, and attractive, Julie seems to have it all. She has a PhD, an interesting career, and good friends. So everything’s great, right?
Not exactly. Julie also has diabetes. And while she loves her job, she feels anxious about running a business. She often gets angry at herself, and snaps at others for small mistakes. Even scarier, despite careful monitoring of her blood sugar, she finds herself in a coma once or twice a month. What’s going on?
It turns out that despite Julie generally healthy habits, her anxiety prevents her from paying attention to the cues her body gives her when her blood sugar is too low.
On her doctor’s advice, Julie tries Mindfulness Based Stress-Reduction classes along with her regular diabetes care program. The MBSR practices help Sylvia slow down and actually pay attention to her body.
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How Your Environment Affects Your Mental Health
Lots of factors contribute to poor mental health. Genetics, personal history, diet, lifestyleall of these play a part. However, when trying to parse the causes of our mental health struggles, many of us fail to consider one of the biggest factors of all: the environment in which we live our day to day lives.
The environment we live and work in forms part of the wider context of our lives, which as any good counsellor knows – is vital to think about when treating any mental health issues. If youre unsure how your environment affects your mental health, well quickly run through a few examples:
Cultural Influences On Mental Health
Cultural Influences on Mental Health is part one of a two-part series on viewing mental health from a public health perspective. To read part two, click here.
People often think of mental health as a very personal matter that has to do only with the individual. However, mental illnesses and mental health in general are affected by the combination of biological and genetic factors, psychology, and society. This intersectionality is important, but the heavy influence of societal factors often goes ignored. An interesting aspect of society is its diversity in cultures and backgrounds that affect an individuals mental health related experiences.
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What Is Mental Illness
Mental illness refers to a diagnosable mental disorder. These are disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behavior. People that suffer from mental illness may have problems functioning in daily life, such as while working or during social activities.
According to Mental Health America, there are more than 200 classified mental health illnesses. The most common of which are Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Dementia, Schizophrenia, and Anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include social withdrawal, and changes in mood, personality, and habits.
But what causes these mental disorders? Biological, psychological, and environmental factors may all be at fault, each in different ways.
Biologically, your brain is the most complex organ. With mental illnesses,the nerve cell circuits and pathways may be dysfunctioning. Other illnesses are connected to defects or injuries to the brain. Additional biological factors that may contribute to mental illnesses include genetics, infections, and prenatal damage.
Psychological factors include severe psychological trauma suffered as a child or adult. This can take the form of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, an important early loss , neglect, and inability to relate to others.