Mental illness should not be stigmatized


Mental health is just as important as physical and spiritual health. We take great care in doing our annual checkups and blood tests to make sure we are always on par with our health. We go to church, to the mosque, to meditate, to read books, to tell others about our spirituality. Why are we neglecting our mental health? Why, when information is readily available about mental illnesses, their triggers, and effective treatments, do we always avoid the possibility that we or a loved one may be affected?

We take this pill easily for high cholesterol, but if anyone dares suggest that you will benefit from an antidepressant or something to calm your nerves, we are insulted. “I face, I face, I face life”, do we not stop telling each other. Mental illness is a clinical condition and should be viewed as such. It is often more complicated to treat mental illnesses than high cholesterol for example, so we must educate those around us and see it as teamwork.

Mental illness is the change in emotions, thinking or behavior that limits our functioning and decreases our quality of life. We need to remember the warning signs of mental health problems. According to the American Association of Psychiatry, the following signs and symptoms may indicate that a person needs help: changes in sleep and appetite, changes in mood, withdrawal, unusual behavior, listlessness, nervousness, difficulty settling down. concentrating, increased sensitivity to smells, sounds and touch, decreased functioning at work or socially. A single sign or symptom may not be significant, often more than one of these signs and symptoms are present simultaneously.

Over the past few months, we have all been affected by the pandemic in one way or another. Many people have come to realize how we struggle when our normalcy is broken, the effect of isolation on us, the constant fear that our loved ones will contract covid, go to the hospital and be alone without us. visit or support. We have realized that we need to maintain contact with others, nurture relationships, and support others throughout life to be meaningful and take care of our mental health. We’ve all been there, especially during this pandemic.

It is important to have someone to look after you when these changes occur, as you often will not recognize it in yourself. If you do, or if you are alerted to these signs in your life, you should seek professional help. A trusted general practitioner can guide you on your journey and provide you with the appropriate support. In some cases, stressors have caused us to lose our way, and it is essential for us to acquire skills to deal with love, life and everything in between. A psychologist is important to help us with these coping skills and will also be able to assess whether medication is needed and therefore a psychiatric assessment. More than ever, you will need a team to accompany you on your journey towards mental well-being. Don’t hesitate, help is just around the corner.

Dr Janet Strauss is Medical Officer and Chief Operating Officer at Medwell SA – The Home Health Care Specialists. For more information visit www.medwell.co.za


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