Poor Mental Health Experiences
Good mental health is not just an absence of illness, but a psychological state that allows an individual to develop and thrive. While one in four people globally experiences a mental health condition at some point in their lives, much-needed actions in the field of mental health care are still lacking. Moreover, many people in need encounter poor mental health services and care. Mental health experts see a reason for these poor mental health experiences in a lack of understanding, fear, and mental health stigma.
There are various concerns with the existing mental health care system. Some of the most common challenges of mental health care involve the access to mental health providers, lack of available therapists/doctors, insurance issues, affordability, the expense of medications, and mental health care funding.
It can be said that mental health is a predictor of the social, economic and overall well-being of one society. Therefore, it is essential to raise and spread mental health awareness and stop the stigma associated with mental illness.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental illness is the biggest economic burden globally, costing the countries $2.5 trillion in 2010. Moreover, this economic burden is projected to cost $6 trillion by 2030.
How Poor Mental Health Experiences Affect People
Inadequate mental health care can have different consequences. For example, it may slow down or delay the recovery process. It may also prevent a person in need from seeking support and further treatment.
Mental Illness Stigma
While we generally have sympathy for people with a physical illness or injury, we tend to deny the same compassion to people who experience mental health problems. Poor mental health experiences can make a person feel stigmatized. And mental illness stigma often creates prejudices that usually cause discrimination and negative actions towards individuals struggling with mental illness.
Raising the awareness that no one is immune to mental illness and removing the stigma from mental health is vital in encouraging people to talk about their mental health issues and seek help.
Poor mental health experiences can significantly damage a person’s already diminished self-esteem. Self-esteem is our sense of self-worth and positive self-image. People with healthy self-esteem generally have a positive outlook and life satisfaction. A person with mental illness, however, usually struggles with poor self-esteem.
Bad mental health experiences may diminish a person’s confidence to face challenges and take risks. A healthy level of confidence helps us to have a positive attitude and to lead productive and happy lives. People with mental health issues usually struggle with life satisfaction and positive outlook. When faced with poor mental health experiences, their confidence further goes downhill.
Reluctance to Seek Help
Globally, 275 million of the population was affected by anxiety disorders while 268 million experienced depression in 2016.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) statistics, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults or 18.1 percent of the adult population in the United States each year. Similarly, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) affects more than 16.1 million or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. adults. Almost 10 million people suffer from a mental health condition serious enough to affect their ability to function daily.
Yet, only around 40 percent of adults and 20 percent of children and adolescents with mental health problems receive treatment. In addition, 90 percent of people in developing countries receive no form of mental health care.
Research shows that men, in particular, struggle when it comes to seeking professional mental health help. Men with depression mostly remain unidentified, undiagnosed, and untreated.
It looks as if males are more likely to keep their feelings in for a long time without acting upon experienced symptoms. Studies show that men generally are less ready than women to search for professional help for their mental health concerns. Additionally, it appears that men are unwilling to seek support from family members or close friends.
People in need who feel unsupported by their family, community, or health care system are more likely to feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and insecure. These people often feel discriminated, rejected or stigmatized, which may cause them to withdraw from social interactions and suffer alone. In addition, individuals in need who experience poor mental health support may decide to seek relief in self-medicating or alcohol or/and drugs abuse.
Drug and/or Alcohol Abuse
Studies show that a large number of men, more than women, suffer from complications closely related to depression, like alcohol and substance abuse. Likewise, the suicide rates in men continue to grow alarmingly.
Why is Therapy Important?
Mental health therapy plays a critical role in helping people who suffer from mental health problems learn strategies such as coping mechanisms, to deal with their illness, minimize the effects of their symptoms and get their lives back on track. With appropriate therapy, those living with a mental health condition can function well at home, work, in their relationships, and generally, in life.
The social and financial consequences of not treating mental illness are important – mental health illness costs the U.S. almost $200 billion in lost earnings each year. Also, people with serious mental illness are at greater risk of developing chronic medical conditions.
The Shortage of Mental Health Professionals
The demand for mental health services in the U.S. is undeniably growing. However, the country is facing a shortage of licensed mental health professionals, which means that millions of people nationwide are struggling with mental illness without support.
Receiving the Wrong Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis accuracy matters regardless of the type of the disease. Mental health misdiagnosis keeps people in need from receiving the proper treatment and achieving mental wellbeing.
A 2012 study by Bipolar UK, Bipolar Scotland, and the Royal College of Physicians surveyed 706 people. The findings of this study show that people with bipolar disorder wait for an average of 13.2 years before they are diagnosed. In addition, they often get misdiagnosed (most of them were wrongly diagnosed with depression) and spend years being treated for other conditions. Also, 85 percent of these people experienced diagnostic delay and only 15 percent of them were diagnosed early.
Among those 85 percent who experienced a diagnostic delay, 71 percent reported that their symptoms worsened as a result of receiving inappropriate treatment.
Of course, misdiagnosis can happen to any other mental health disorder as well. Aside from bipolar disorder and depression, some of the most frequently misdiagnosed mental health conditions include anxiety, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).
Why People with Mental Illness Get Misdiagnosed?
Many people fail to recognize certain emotions or behaviors as symptoms of mental illness, thus failing to report them.
Furthermore, people may fail to report their symptoms due to embarrassment or shame that result from mental illness stigma and certain social norms. For example, studies show that men are less likely to act upon their mental health symptoms due to strong masculinity norms and stereotypes that expect men to be tough, ongoing, macho breadwinners who don’t show feelings (because that is a sign of weakness). Instead of seeking professional help, they rather go for destructive behaviors such as violence, drug, and alcohol abuse.
Another reason for mental illness misdiagnosis may lie in doctor’s lack of training or/and experience or even certain biases, such as for instance, a racial bias.
How to Improve Mental Health
All people deserve good mental health. We all deserve to live fulfilling lives and contribute to our community and society. Some non-profit mental health organizations such as Mental Health Improvement Foundation (MHIF) strive to providing better access to mental health care to all people, and particularly those who cannot afford it.
Also, MHIF aspires to improve the way that mental health care is provided. As already mentioned, the current care system struggles with many issues such as a lack of trained mental health professionals, insurance coverage issues, affordability of therapy, the expense of medications, and mental health care funding issues. If we add misdiagnosis and improper treatment, and biases that therapists sometimes might have, it is easy to understand the concerns that pertain to poor mental health experiences.
Our goal is to be here for those people who are in need and feel like they have nobody to support them. We want to spread mental health awareness and help end the mental illness-related stigma, unfortunately, so present in our society. This is what matters. So, here are some constructive ways to improve mental health that we strive for.
Healthy Lifestyle Promotion
Mental health is much more than your diagnosis. It is the way you think, feel, behave, relate to others, and perceive the world around you. Mental health represents the way you think about yourself and the others, manage your feelings, and respond to life challenges and transitions.
Yes, taking care of your mental health undeniably means seeking professional support and treatment. However, it also means making changes to improve your mental health on your own. These may include any lifestyle change that improves your mood, boost resilience, and overall life satisfaction:
Practice positive affirmations: these are positive statements about yourself that help stop negative thinking patterns and change them with more positive ones.
Exercise: a large body of research shows that physical activity can improve your mood, release tension, ease the symptoms related to anxiety and depression, and help build up your resilience.
Scientific evidence proves that physical exercise promotes a variety of changes in the brain and can rewire our brain: exercise helps release dopamine and endorphins, increasing their level in our blood. These powerful neurochemicals, also known as ‘hormones of happiness’, generate the growth of new cells and neural connections in our brain. This is very similar to the effect of antidepressant medicament therapy.
Do some journaling: studies show that writing down your thoughts on a piece of paper can have a catharsis effect. Journaling can help you organize your thoughts and identify unproductive thinking patterns.
Practice gratitude: regular gratitude exercise can increase your optimism, conjure a feeling of happiness and improve your overall well-being.
Discounted Mental Health Care
Mental Health Improvement Foundation is committed to pulling out all the stops to make mental health care available to anyone who needs it. Also, there are volunteers who will listen to you when you need someone to talk to about your struggles – these are people who are able to relate to poor mental health experiences and mental illness and they are here for you.
Improving the Doctor-Patient Relationship
Information exchange is vital. The patient needs to feel comfortable to reveal their struggles to a mental health professional. As a patient, you need to have confidence in your therapist to help you work on your behavior patterns, feelings, thoughts, and symptoms. Therefore, finding a therapist or doctor who is a good match for your personality, problems, and needs is very important.
Read more about our plans here: https://mhif.us/programs/