The existence of mental illnesses are fairly common among people around the world, affecting around 676 million people according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a study done in 2015.
As a general rule, anxiety disorders seem to be the most prevalent, followed by mood disorders, such as depression then substance use disorders. Women tend to suffer with mood and anxiety disorders, while men substance use.
Commonly though, mental illnesses occur in combination; e.g. people with anxiety often have depression and a depressed person can often self medicate with alcohol or other substances. This is often referred to as comorbidity, co-occurence or dual diagnosis.
People suffering with mental illnesses or mental health issues often receive no treatment or help of any form from professionals for issues such as depression, anxiety and substance use, but often receive treatment for more serious conditions like bipolar and schizophrenia this could be after it has caused great disruption to a suffers life over several years and in worse cases, following a hospitalisation after a psychotic episode of some form.
According to the WHO mental illness can be a major cause of disability worldwide. Mental illness ranks highly on the disease of burden scale (see chart below) up there with heart disease, cancers and musculoskeletal disorders. Disease of burden is the combined effect of premature death and years lived with disability caused by an illness.
Commonly mental health issues occur in adolescence or early adulthood, which can affect a persons education, progression into the adult workplace and forming important relationships in life. In addition to this, they increase the likelihood of substance misuse. This means that mental illness can cause disability and disruption across a persons lifespan, which highlights the importance of early intervention and effective support and/ or treatment.
Mental illness often have a major impact on a persons life and can even lead to a premature death and medical experts rate them as a very disabling condition. Disabling is defined as the amount of disruption to a persons work, relationships and ability to look after oneself. The severity of disability during an episode of mental illness can be comparable to that of a physical condition.
In addition to this, because mental illness is not obvious or visible, there is often stigma surrounding it and additional suffering perpetuated by rejection from people in the sufferers life caused by a lack of understanding and a perception that a person is just being lazy, selfish, uncooperative or weak.
People struggling with mental illness can face unsurmountable difficulty and problems that exacerbate their conditions, often caused by the low levels of support, funding and understanding in society. It also severely affects ones ability to work and sufferers of mental illness often experience the lowest levels of employment among disabled people.
Episodes of mental illness can often be short-lived and are often triggered by a traumatic event in a persons life. People who continually have a mental health condition can often learn to live with it through lifestyle changes and making some adjustments in their life to work with the symptoms of their conditions.
Fundamentally the attitudes of the community and support from family, friends and coworkers should be the same towards someone with a mental health condition, as with a physical one, as often they can be as equally if not more debilitating, this can be achieved by raising mental health awareness, particularly in the workplace and through education in schools, where mental illness can have the greatest effect on a persons life.
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Peace, love and positive vibes,