Tuesday, 9 October 2012

World Mental Health Day Part 1

Tomorrow, Wednesday, 10th October 2012, is World Mental Health Day. Like myself, Asperger's Syndrome and Autism, Cancer or many other kinds of illnesses and death itself, mental illness is no respecter of skin colour, ethnic origin, wealth, social background, educational or life achievements or area where one lives. It does not discriminate, though I would say there are numerous causes of it. Your DNA and genes or at least a genetic predisposition is one deciding factor. What has happened to you in life such as a traumatic event can be another factor, or it can be environmental, or it can be caused by heavy alcohol consumption, as alcohol is a depressant on the nervous system, or heavy smoking of Cannabis, as that can cause Psychosis, or several other factors and issues.

Many people believe that people with Mental Health problems are dangerous or violent. This prejudicial belief or fear has been reinforced, and aided and abetted by headlines in the national media such as "BONKERS BRUNO LOCKED UP", "KNIFE WIELDING SCHIZO JAILED FOR MURDER" or "CRAZED SCHIZO KILLS 3". However, why don't they also publish, when it happens, "KNIFE WIELDING PSYCHOPATH JAILED FOR MURDER" or simply, "KNIFE WIELDING ORDINARY PERSON LOCKED UP"?. Perhaps because it is less overly dramatic and is less likely to sell newspapers.

Despite these myths, research indicates that those being treated for mental health problems are no more violent or dangerous than the general population. If anything, they are more likely to be the victims of violence, especially self-harm. Everybody who suffers from mental health problems is an individual, just like you and I, and you will get people who are violent who do suffer from mental health problems, but the violence might arise because of a personality disorder, or simply their nature or temperament. In some cases, such behaviour could have been seen before the person fell ill. In fact, alcohol or drug consumption are bigger contributing factors to general violence than mental illness.

Mental illness is not rare. About one in every hundred people will develop schizophrenia at some time in their lives and about one in fifty people will develop bipolar disorder. Overall, one in four people will experience some form of mental health problem at some time in their lives, which represents a quarter of the British population, or about 15 million people.

What does the term "Mental illness" mean? For me, the definition is a variety or wide spectrum of illness or conditions. It can be defined as being illnesses which I have already stated such as Bipolar and Schizophrenia, but also depression, either acute or chronic, or reactionary, because of a sad or traumatic event in one's life. Psychosis is a form of mental illness, where the patient is out of touch with reality with their thoughts or beliefs, but doesn't know or realise or understand that they are out of touch with reality.

Under illnesses defined as psychotic, there is Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Paranoid Psychosis, and a condition called Schizoaffective disorder, which is a combination of Schizophrenia and Bipolar but there is not enough symptoms of either for it to be classed as that. Mental health problems aren't solely about being out of touch with reality. You can suffer from neurosis, where the individual knows what s/he is doing is wrong or irrational, but can't stop it. This type of behaviour occurs with people who have OCD, as well as Anxiety or Depression.

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