Blog Action Day 2014 Mental vs. Physical Health

Bloggers from over 111 countries are taking part in Blog Action Day 2014.  The theme for Blog Action Day (October 16) this year is Inequality.

Blog Action Day 2014

Blog Action Day 2014

There are many inequalities, which simply have to be accepted.  Inequalities of height, strength, natural ability and so on are outside human control.

There are other inequalities, which can be lessened through education and action.  One such inequality is the difference in attitude world-wide to people suffering from mental illnesses or disabilities compared with those enduring physical illnesses or disabilities.

Physical problems are mostly visible (although deafness is not).  Mental health problems are not immediately obvious.  This difference may be part of the reason for the difference in attitudes, both from people in general and from healthcare providers, to patients suffering from mental ill-health compared with those suffering from physical problems.

The association of mental health problems with madness/craziness does not help.  While some mentally ill people may do crazy and even violent or dangerous things, the majority do not.

Earlier this year Manchester Airport, UK was brought to a standstill by a passenger on an international flight, who was considered to pose a risk to that flight.  The following day it was announced that he had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.  While it is more than likely that this was the correct action, this sort of publicity does nothing to help the majority of mentally ill people, who are no threat to anyone.

There is very little publicity for ordinary people, who suddenly find that they are unable to do everyday tasks due to such conditions as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.  Other mental health problems include obsessive compulsive disorder and all kinds of phobias, panic attacks, eating disorders and addictions to various substances.

Even in countries in North America and Europe sufferers from these conditions tend to be neglected in favour of those with physical problems, where the treatment and length of time to recover are more predictable.  From what I have read, in many other parts of the world the stigma associated with mental illness makes life far worse for sufferers.

Mental health and emotional problems affect different people in different ways.  The available treatments include talking therapies and drugs.  It is often easier to prescribe a drug and leave the patient to administer it (perhaps by taking tablets for months or years) than to find the resources for the talking therapies, which may help to address the cause of the problem or investigate coping strategies and help the patient lead a normal life.  Treating the symptoms, without dealing with the underlying problem is like wallpapering over the cracks.  Some treatments are not proven to be effective and have irreversible results.  One such treatment is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – also known as electric shock treatment.  This is used to treat patients with depression, who may not be in a fit state to know what they are consenting to.  I wonder how many of the people prescribing it would agree to having it themselves or for their nearest and dearest.  There is a campaign to have it banned.

It is very important to treat people rather than symptoms.

When families are unable to manage a mentally-ill person at home, the person may be admitted to hospital.  For anyone finding themselves in a psychiatric ward for the first time, this may be frightening and confusing.

One problem is that they might believe that as they are diagnosed as crazy, they have no hope of living outside hospital again.  This will only make their illness worse.

It is important that everyone is taught about mental health issues and how to treat people affected by them.  Everyone should know that people who have suffered mental illness can lead “normal” productive lives.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about mental illness.  In the UK the Time to Change campaign is doing a wonderful job raising awareness of the issues.  Sufferers of mental ill-health and the general public are being encouraged to talk about these issues.  Greater understanding should lead to earlier support before the illness would cause admission to hospital.  People are also being encouraged not to ignore their friends at times of mental infirmity.  It may not be much fun to be in the company of a depressed friend, but your friendship would mean a lot.

There is also a campaign to make mental health a core subject in the National Curriculum in the United Kingdom.  Children and young people may be affected by mental illness and it is important that everybody is taught to look for the signs and to give support where it is needed.

People with physical disabilities campaigned years ago.  They used the slogan, “Does he take sugar?”  to remind people that most disabled people can answer for themselves.

An artist, who decided to explain about her bipolar disorder through art, was featured by the BBC.

It’s Time to Change and It’s Time to Talk are the phrases being used for the mental health awareness scheme in the UK.  Are you ready to talk?  Then we can bring about change for the better.

Linking with the WordPress Daily Prompt.

 

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11 thoughts on “Blog Action Day 2014 Mental vs. Physical Health

  1. Well-done. I’m a therapist, working with depressed, anxious people every day. There is a vast difference between that and true insanity. Not the same thing at all.

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  2. I love this, and that you are raising awareness for mental health. I especially can relate to people asking someone other than myself: “do you take sugar.” So true; like they are afraid to ask! lol. But mine is actually a physical health challenge.
    Most people who are physically disabled have “invisible illnesses” because they aren’t in wheelchairs or using walking aids. So they can always relate to people with mental health challenges because others cannot see the terrible pain they are suffering on the inside. Having invisible pain and invisible challenges makes us feel more isolated from healthy people, but it really makes us more connected to ALL of those with invisible pain- mental and physical.
    Your article was very thought provoking. I enjoyed it!

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    • I’m sorry to learn of your physical health challenges. I am aware of many people battling on in spite of all kinds of “invisible” conditions. Many are likely to experience depression at some time. I agree suffering makes for empathy with other sufferers.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post. Sue

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  3. I would love to think that attitudes to mental illness will change for the better for good, but I suspect it won’t be for a long time yet, maybe not even in my lifetime. The idea of crazy is just too engrained for it to be wiped away easily. Yes, people are better educated but their underlying prejudice, things they say and do automatically, take a long time to change.

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  4. Talking is the only way to help others and raise the stigma. God has used my battles with depression and self-harm to help and encourage others, especially teens. It is great when ordinary people talk about their extraordinary struggles. And that is the thing, whether a physical or mental health issue, we’re just all ordinary people.

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    • It takes a great deal of courage (and energy) to talk about these issues. Many people think either depression is a “made up” illness or that anyone who has experienced such illnesses must be incompetent. Sue

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