When it come to our mental health, do we really know enough?
That’s the goal, correct? To have a healthy, sound and active mind, in an equally healthy, sound and active body. While popular culture always seems to focus on external beauty and the way a person looks, we tend to almost ‘shy away’ from matters concerning the mind and mental health. The reason? We’re probably afraid of what people might think. Ironic, isn’t it?
But, apart from the irony in all of this, what do we really know enough about mental health? For starters, the World Health Organization defines mental health as "... a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities to cope with the normal stresses of life, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community." They also go on to say that mental health "is not just the absence of mental disorder."
That’s great, but what is a ‘mental disorder’ exactly? Glad you asked. Listed below are a few of the common types of mental disorders and a brief description of each, and if you feel as though you may be suffering from any of these conditions, I’d like you to know that you’re not alone, and medical help is but a phone call away.
The most common types of mental illness are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and schizophrenia disorders; below we explain each in turn:
Anxiety disorders are the most common when it comes to mental illness. The person has an almost crippling fear or anxiety, which is linked to certain objects or situations. Most people with an anxiety disorder often avoid exposure to whatever triggers their anxiety.
These are also known as affective or depressive disorders. Patients with these conditions have significant changes in mood, generally involving either mania (elation) or depression which can take a too on your mental health.
The first thing to do is know that there is no reason for you to be ashamed of your condition, it’s no different than a cold or a ‘flu. And, just as you would go to a doctor to treat these illnesses, you would need to seek medical advice for mental illness as well.
The first person to call would be your GP, for a full diagnosis of your condition. He or she can then refer you to a specialist doctor for further treatment. If you need help immediately, and your GP is not available, and you feel like you cannot cope, you can speak to a trained counselor by calling Lifeline on 0861 322 322, any time during the day or night, and at every day of the year. If you’d like to contact a Lifeline office near you and arrange a face-to-face counseling session, visit http://lifelinesa.co.za/south-africa/ for more information.
If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, it’s likely that your doctor would have put you on some form of medication that you’re required to take on a daily basis. With so many things happening all at once, and you trying to cope, there’s a great possibility that you might forget to take your meds. Don’t worry. Simply download the Memo Health Assitant app here, set up daily reminders to take your meds when you need to, and you’ll feel better soon!