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Understanding Psychiatric Disorders

Updated on July 21, 2014

What are Psychiatric Disorders?

Let's start at the beginning-Psychiatric disorders involve thought, emotional and behavioural disturbances. These mental health disorders are caused by complex interactions between the physical, psychological, social, cultural and hereditary influences. There have been numerous deinstitutionalization movements that have sought to bring the mentally ill patients out of institutions. This is as greater emphasis is placed in viewing them as members of families and communities, and rightly so.

Do we need more Centres catering for the Mental Disorders?

Mental health disorders have been commonly treated differently from other physiological disorders. This is that, unlike the latter, psychiatric disorders cannot be validated by independent laboratory investigations. A judgement of the individual occurs. Here, a functional assessment of the person based on medical record and careful observation by an informed, unbiased professional is carried out. In the past, the mentally ill received no treatment other than the care of the general physician, family, friends and the clergy. Most, other than the most seriously ill obtained no formal treatment

Insurance for Psychiatric Patients

Those who did received it in custodial mental hospitals as they could not be safely cared for by their families. The affluent typically had access to psychotherapy which was office based while the rest were attuned to the public mental hospitals where few psychiatrists worked. And these, as stated, only took in the most serious of the cases. The stigma associated with psychiatric disorders could have resulted from this segregation.

The changes in current times: health insurance for psychiatry inpatient and outpatient care, increased psychologist and social worker training, medication development of anti psychotic and antidepressants, and the deinstitutionalization has changed the mode of care received by those suffering with the disorders and contributed to the reduction of social stigma that is directed to them.

Efficient Services for Psychiatric Patients

However, more fair coverage is still needed as recent studies show that psychiatric care, especially at the outpatient level, is mainly used by the better insured and educated, and hence it is still disproportional. This requires attention through fairer insurance coverage and appropriate administration of parity benefit. The expert management of mental health benefits should be improved. To make access to care easier and faster to those with psychiatric disorders, those who make assessments must be appropriately trained and qualified.

Perception, Stigma and Discrimination against Mentally ill

Widespread stigma affects those with mental illness. It has its effects. There is the employment discrimination witnessed against the people suffering from psychiatric disorders. Moreover, most people said to have a mental disorder report that they want to handle the distress themselves. This is due to ignorance of available treatment and fear of stigma and social perception. Awareness programmes and education campaigns should be carried out more to encourage people be more accepting of their conditions and change their conceptions.

How Common are Mental Disorders

There have been global study results on psychiatric disorders made by various organisations, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO). They have shown that there are numerous incidences that occur, and have also done estimates for individual disorders. For example, Schizophrenia appears to be more common in Japan, Oceania and least common in the sub-Saharan Africa.


Check out the 'Care-for-Psychiatric-Disorders' hub for more information on treatment of Psychiatric disorders.

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