#WorldMentalHealthDay: Don’t underestimate your mental well-being

Mental disorders have become a common phenomenon.

“The consequences of untreated mental disorders may be severe, potentially life-threatening and adversely affect multiple domains of life,” cautioned Linessa Moodley, a psychiatrist at Akeso Kenilworth Clinic.

Moodley pointed out that mental illnesses were serious disorders which impaired a person’s ability to function (personal, professional and financial), as well as affecting physical health. “The longer the duration of untreated symptoms, the more difficult it may be to achieve significant symptom relief when treatment is eventually initiated.”

According to Moodley, mental health is an often stigmatised field of medicine. 

“Many people feel that to see a psychiatrist means that something is very wrong and that a referral is in itself an admission of severe illness. Few see the role of the psychiatrist as someone who helps ordinary people deal with extraordinary situations.”

According to Moodley, statistics indicate that one in four people will face mental or neurological disorders during their lifetime, yet only about two-thirds of people with a mental illness seek help.

Some symptoms of a mental disorder:

  • Persistent changes to your mood
  • Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted
  • Feeling that you are not coping with your usual day to day activities
  • Feeling unlike your usual self and concerns that you may have mental health difficulties
  • Having unusual experiences such as seeing or hearing things that others can’t
  • Being told by friends or family that they are concerned about your mental wellbeing
  • Having trouble with your memory
  • Having thoughts of harming yourself
  • Having difficulty with substance misuse.

The cause of mental illness is a combination of factors. “A combination of genetic predisposition [or positive family history], early life trauma/adversity, stressors, medical illnesses, and substances, among other factors, all influence each other and the likelihood of developing mental illness.”

The World Health Organisation defined health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’

Moodley stressed that mental health was an essential component of overall health and it was crucial to our sense of well-being.

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