UNITED STATES—May is Mental Health Awareness Month and instead of the usual DOOM and GLOOM statistics let’s go back to the basics because it seems to me that our consensus on the current state of mental health and the illnesses that affect it are convoluted due to a wealth of illness-specific research that is put out so rapidly that we easily forget the BASICS!
WHAT DOES MENTAL HEALTH Mean?
The best definition is by www.mentalhealth.gov: “our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence, through adulthood.”
WHAT IS MENTAL ILLNESS?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines, “a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis.”
WHAT CAUSES MENTAL ILLNESS?
Let’s take a look at what the experts say.
NAMI tells us that the development of mental illness usually revolves around a combination of “genetics, environment and lifestyle” causes. For more information about individual mental health conditions, click here.
Our quest to explain nurture vs nature in the causation of mental illness has not only helped us learn how genetics affect the development of mental illness, but also how child abuse changes the structure of the brain, a causal factor of mental illness later in life.
In 2006, research reported that contaminants commonly found in poverty level homes (i.e. cigarette smoke, hydrocarbons, bacteria) are causing epigenetic reactions, defined as “external modifications to DNA that turn genes “on” or “off.” More recent researchers from McGill University “studied the brains of people who committed suicide, and found those who had been abused in childhood had unique patterns of epigenetic tags in their brains.”
The CDC reports that by the year 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of disabilities. What causes someone to be depressed? Some say that diet, contaminants, poor relationships, and prescriptions can cause depression.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) lists “genetics, brain biology and chemistry, and life events such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, an early childhood experience, or any stressful situation” as common causes of depression.
So if you find yourself falling into one of those “it’s the stigma” topics that take away from the truth regarding the proliferation of these debilitating mental deficiencies, please read this article from Megan Wallin, giving an accurate account of the big problems facing the in the mental health crisis in America…
Many of our mental health problems could be alleviated if we ALL followed one simple rule, one you have probably heard before and in my opinion THE WISEST WORDS from any bible:
For a long time we’ve been crying for change in mental health politics with the rise in depression and personality disorders as our proof. Now we are at a point that (for example) NPR reports that in California it can be impossible to find a bed for the loved one having a PSYCHOTIC (loss of reality) episode.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that we know what mental illness is, and the factors commonly found to disable one’s mental health. All we have to do now is collectively cry for changes such as stiffer laws for abusers and mental health emergency rooms, before there are no healthy minds left!
Do you suffer from mental illness? This month’s theme at mentalhealthamerica.net is LIFE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS, and they are inviting anyone to contribute by letting the world know what it feels like living with mental illness. Click here to add your bit.