Mailén Agüero – Business Development Analyst
Francisco Stefano – Director
October 10 marks World Mental Health Day.
This is an opportunity to talk about mental health in general, how we should take care of it, and how important it is to get help if you’re struggling.
Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioural and emotional well-being. It is about how people think, feel and behave. Mental health conditions can have a substantial effect on all areas of life, such as performance in school or work, relationships with family and friends, and the ability to participate in the community.
Throughout life, multiple individuals, social, and structural determinants can combine to protect or affect our mental health.
Psychological and biological factors, such as emotional abilities, substance abuse, and genetics. Exposure to unfavourable social, economic, geopolitical, and environmental circumstances, such as poverty, violence, inequality, and environmental degradation, also increases the risk of mental health conditions.
Risks can manifest at all stages of life, but those that occur during sensitive periods of development, especially early childhood, are particularly damaging.
Mental health risks are found in society on different scales. Local hazards increase the risk to individuals, families, and communities. Global threats increase the risk to entire populations; These include economic downturns, disease outbreaks, humanitarian emergencies, forced displacement, and the growing climate crisis.
There are almost 300 mental disorders listed in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). This is a manual used by health professionals to help identify and detect mental illness.
Some of the main groups of mental disorders are:
• Mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
• Anxiety disorders
• Personality disorder
• Psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)
• Eating disorders
• Trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder)
• Substance use disorders
In recent years, the important role that mental health plays in our society has been increasingly recognised. Here are some global mental health figures:
• About 800,000 people commit suicide each year, being the second cause of death in people between 15 and 29 years old.
• Mental health disorders increase the risk of other illnesses and contribute to unintentional and intentional injuries.
• People with serious mental health conditions die prematurely, up to two decades earlier, due to preventable physical conditions.
• More than 300 million people in the world live with depression, a mental health problem that has reached 18.4% between 2005 and 2015
Mental health conditions are on the rise worldwide, there has been a 13% increase in substance use disorders in the last decade (as of 2017). About 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental health condition, with depression being one of the leading causes of disability.
Recognising and understanding mental illness is an important first step in breaking stereotypes and false beliefs, thus overcoming prejudice and stigmatisation towards people with mental illness.
Stigma and misinformation can seem like overwhelming obstacles to someone struggling with a mental health condition. It affects not only the number of people seeking treatment, but also the number of resources available for adequate treatment. Changing our attitude is essential so that those who suffer from it can integrate into society.
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