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About Mental Health - Promoting Psychological Well Being

Updated on July 26, 2012

How Society Views Mental Illness

Mental Illness has Stigmas
Mental Illness has Stigmas | Source

How to Promote Mental Health

In order to experience joy, love, to laugh, to work, to learn, and to contribute to others and our environment, good health is the most important and valuable asset we have.

Our health and our well being is crucial to our happiness, our productivity, and our self development. We go to doctors to check on our physical health. From blood tests to x-rays and sophisticated cat scans and more, our bodies can be examined inside and out. Technology has had a great impact on what we can learn about ourselves biologically.

When we fall ill from sickness or injury, people may readily offer their compassion and assistance. Yet, when our mental health comes under question, people may not be as understanding, patient, or supportive. People don’t go for regular mental checkups. And those who seek counseling, often keep it secret. Society seems to attach stigmas to people who have issues with their mental health.

Promote Good Mental Health and Have Better Physical Health

Mental health, according to the World Health Organization is a "state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."

In order to create a caring and supportive communitity, promoting mental health is paramount to helping ourselves and others survive in a world that is filled with stresses and obstacles that can overwhelm our mental well being.

Our physical health and mental health are interconnected. By promoting good mental health, our physical well being will be enhanced. Through education, intervention, and acceptance, we can help each other promote, identify,and support recovery and good mental health througout our lives.

Programs for Mental Health

Promoting mental health starts with programs that assist people develop problem solving kills and enhance their coping skills. Some of these programs include :

  • suicide prevention
  • groups that are formed to enhance peer leadership, .life skill lessons, mentoring programs
  • home visits by health professionals who work directly with families to improve quality of life and better environments for raising children
  • education about child development and assistance in improving parenting skills
  • encouraging people to seek help and reducing the stigma that is associated with mental illness
  • programs that enhance a person’s self competence, improve their self esteem and encourage a greater sense of well being

People who suffer from mental illness face multiple problems. They struggle with the issues that affect their mind and even cause disabilities, and face obstacles of discrimination and prejudice from stereotypes and misconceptions about mental illness. There are public stigmas and there are reactions associated with mental illness that rob people of opportunities towards a better life, and career. Self stigma is the shame people feel because of their affliction. Both create negative emotional reactions to mental illness and leave a person with less support, a feeling of vulnerability, anger, fear and an assortment of other responses that may lead to negative behavior and feelings.

The Media Creates False Images About Mental Illness

Television and Movies portray people with mental illnesses in a bad light
Television and Movies portray people with mental illnesses in a bad light | Source

Stigmas and Mental Illness

Studies have shown that the majority of people in the United States and Western Europe have stigmatizing views about mental illness. Asian and African nations seem to have a more open attitude about mental health.

Stigmas can be seen in movies and television. People with mental
illness in movies and tv are often characterized as homicidal maniacs, as naive and childlike, as weak people, as though they brought their mental problems on themselves. In a study done among 2,ooo people from England and the United States, people

  • feared and excluded those who suffered from severe mental illness
  • people with mental illness are irresponsible and need to have others make decisions for them
  • people with mental illness are child like and must be cared for

Stigmas develop due to a lack of knowledge and create fear that may result in bullying, harassment, discrimination at work and school. Even health insurance puts greater limitations on coverage for mental health care than other types of health conditions.

Mental Health Myths

Mental Illness Myths
The Truth About Mental Illness
The Facts
People who have a mental illness are more dangerous than the general population.
Most are not violent, But it is the violence that makes the headlines
The media often sensationalizes accounts of crime. Statistics do not show a connection between mental illness and violence.
People who have a mental illness do not ever get better
Many lead productive lives.People with mental illnesses can recover and resume normal activities
Talk therapy, medication, other treatments and support systems are effective in helping people
Untreated mental illness does not affect your school performance and grades
Mental illnesses may interfere with functioning in different ways. Many illnesses may affect a student’s ability to do certain things, such as thinking or communicating with others.
Over 50 percent of students with a mental disorder age 14 and older drop out of high school—the highest dropout rate of any disability group. 15
Mental illness is a weakness you can overcome if you really want to.
Mental Illness is not something someone does to themselves (except if it occurs from substance abuse) Support and treatment is integral to a person'slong term psychological well being
Fewer than one-third of adults and one-half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder receive mental health services in a given year.
The media portrays mental illness accurately.
The media sensationalizes, tv and movies dramatize and comedians poke fun of people with a mental illness
Media lobbying and press liaison should take on a central role for mental health professionals, not only as a way of speaking out for patients who may not be able to speak out for themselves, but as a means of improving public education and awareness.
Research suggests that employers are less likely to hire persons who are labeled mentally ill
Some people also believe that those with mental illness are less competent, unable to work, should be institutionalized, or will never get better
Walmart, Taco Bell, and Hyatt Hotels are just a few corporations who regularly hire people with disabilities. Many employers hire people with mental disabilities and have great success.
People can get over depression by themselves and depression never reoccurs.
It is important for people with depression to get treatment from a mental health professional or from their physician. Many people are not able to recognize depression in themselves or others.
Clinical depression is very treatable, with improvement shown in 80% for those persons treated.
Only adults and older adults experience mental illnesses.
Mental illnesses occur in persons of all ages, all ethnic, racial, educational, and religious groups. They do no discriminate. Mental illnesses appear in families of all backgrounds in every community across the country. Over 4 million youth experience a major mental illness that can result in significant problems at home, at school, and with peers.
Among children and youth ages 9-17, there are one or two with serious emotional problems in virtually every classroom in the country. Over seven million older adults age 65 and older in the United States (20 percent of the older adult population) have a mental illness and that number is expected to double into 15 million people in the next three decades. Depression can occur along with other physical illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Suicide rates are highest among Americans age 65 and older.
Only crazy people see shrinks.
People of all ages and all walks of life seek help from a variety of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists. Seeking out and accepting help are signs of positively coping and of preventing situations from getting worse.
Fewer than one-third of adults and one-half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder receive mental health services in a given year.
If you talk about suicide, you won’t attempt it.
Suicidal comments have to always be taken seriously as they often lead to plans, attempts, or completions. If you are worried about yourself or another person, and do not know how serious the problem is, know where to get help. It’s better to be safe than sorry
Most suicide attempts are expressions of extreme distress, not harmless bids for attention. A person who appears suicidal should not be left alone and needs immediate mental-health treatment

Fear of People With a Mental Illness

Society seems to have greater disapproval and less sympathy for people who have psychiatric health issues as compared to people who have physical ailments.

Common reactions to people who deal with mental illness is avoidance, restraining and forceful treatments, and segregation.

In 1996, the General Social Survey, a survey of 1,444 U.S. adults showed that more than ½ of the respondents resisted spending an evening socializing with someone who had a mental illness, were unwilling to work next to, or have a family member marry such a person.

This and other studies have shown the negative impact mental illness has on obtaining a good job, and gaining safe and secure housing for themselves.

Promoting Good Mental Health

A study involving 1,301 people stigmatized by mental health experiences (aged 12 - 94 years old) showed that people with mental health issues suffer discrimination in every aspect of their lives. In their community, with family members, at church, with co-workers and with mental health caregivers, discrimination existed. Most of those in this survey tried to hide their disorders for fear that others would find out about their psychiatric struggles. They feared unfavorable treatment, felt discouraged, hurt, angry, and suffered from low self esteem. Some found that being an advocate against mental health discrimination helped them cope with the stigmas.

One of the best ways to overcome the stigmas associated with mental illness and to promote good mental health is to:

  • get proper treatment even if you are reluctant to admit there may be a problem
  • don’t let yourself be labeled
  • believe that you can and will get relief from your symptoms
  • there is no shame in having a mental illness
  • a person who needs help is not weak
  • dealing with mental problems is not something you can control, nor did you cause it
  • connecting with others may help you realize you are not alone
  • the ability to overcome any ailment, physical or mental will increase your self esteem
  • don’t judge yourself harshly or let other’s opinions affect what is best for you
  • find someone you trust to confide in and gather support from
  • don’t identify yourself with your illness. You are not your diagnosis. You have a diagnosis
  • partake in a support group so that you will learn you are not alone
  • become an outspoken advocate to help educate those who don’t understand about mental illness and encourage others who suffer similarly and break down the barriers of ignorance, fear, denial, and negativit

Acceptance and Education

There is good news in the research too. As people become more exposed to those with mental disabilities, their misconceptions and discriminations lessons. Promoting good mental health results from education, exposure, and information that increases acceptance and a greater understanding towards those who deal with mental diseases.

As attitudes improve, prejudice diminishes. When acceptance becomes the norm, all people involved will increase the promotion of mental health. Kindness, compassion, and understanding brings greater opportunities for better mental health for us all. Misconceptions increase the fear and lack of understanding about mental illness. Emotional problems are more prevalent than anyone likes to admit. The more we understand, the more we can help mankind and create a better society for all.


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    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 4 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      I was struck by the following statement in your Table: "Fewer than one-third of adults and one-half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder receive mental health services in a given year."

      My question is: should the psychiatric community assess our political leaders?

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Maddie, I am glad you found this hub useful. It is a shame that people label people, whether it is about mental illness or other observations about individuals.

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Thank you so much for presenting this information so clearly. I am definitely going to use your Myth/Facts table as a reference, to point out to people who might be misinformed.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Gsidley, Thank you for stopping by and commenting. You are so correct about the models that are used to explain mental health problems. Discrimination and stigmas are commonplace in society for many things. It just seems with all the technology and advancements we make, these things would change for the better. I appreciate your kind comments and up votes.

    • gsidley profile image

      Dr. Gary L. Sidley 5 years ago from Lancashire, England

      A great read! You make some very pertinent points about the range of misconceptions associated with people with mental health problems.

      For me the way forward is to encourage and support people with lived experience of mental disorder to tell their stories, integrate into mainstream society and thereby educate the general public. Regretably, many of the "education" programmes delivered by psychiatric professionals promote spurious "biochemical imbalance" models to explain mental health problems, an approach that has been shown to increase stigma rather than reduce it.

      Thanks for a very interesting hub. Voted up.

    • profile image

      DoItForHer 5 years ago

      I've seen law enforcement take harsh, highly punitive action against nonviolent people with mental illness. Stripping them down. Isolating them. Disallowing medication.

      Not cool.


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