The famous phrase “stitch in time saves nine” suggests that preventing any kind of mishap is better than dealing with the consequences later in life. Before diving deep into whether psychological illnesses can be prevented or not, let us first find out what psychological illness means.
According to the WHO, “psychological illness, also called a mental disorder, is characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation, or behavior.” Some examples of mental illnesses are schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, etc.
possible causes of Psychological illnesses
Genetics and the family history of any disorder can be a cause of mental illness. Research has shown that having a family member with any psychological illness increases the risk of having a similar illness.
Brain injuries or defects, genetic dysfunction, or exposure to toxins are some biological factors that could lead to mental instability.
Having a chronic illness like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease increases the risk of cognitive impairment.
Isolation and loneliness
Staying out of touch, feeling lonely, and not connecting with or meeting with friends and family push you towards developing a mental health issue sometimes.
Mother’s exposure to stress, alcohol, viruses, toxic chemicals, or teratogens during the prenatal phase can result in the child developing depression, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, conduct disorder, and physical impairment.
Any kind of serious trauma in the past increases the risk of psychological illnesses in people. It really depends on the severity of the traumatic incident.
Substance abuse has also been linked with the causes of various mental health issues.
With changing lifestyles, mental illnesses have changed as well. People are becoming more and more cautious these days about their health and wellness. However, there is no proven way to prevent mental illnesses, but there are certain ways and treatments to control the symptoms of any psychological disorder by following a few things.
Routine health check-ups
It is always recommended to keep a regular check on your health so that any illness can be diagnosed before it worsens over time. You might have health issues that you’re unaware of and that need to be treated.
How are mental disorders diagnosed?
- Medical history
- Lab tests and a physical exam are needed to rule out any medical conditions that might be causing the symptoms
- Psychological evaluation
You can read our blog post on What Is It Like To Have A Mental Health Disorder: A Beautiful Mind And Schizophrenia
Paying attention to signs and symptoms
You shouldn’t ignore warning signs that your body and mind are showing. Therefore, it is important to seek professional assistance from a psychologist in order to prevent any serious mental health issue.
Being physically active
Exercising reduces stress, improves self-esteem, increases energy levels, and releases feel-good endorphins, endogenous cannabinoids—which are brain chemicals similar to those found in cannabis—and other natural brain chemicals that can improve your mood.
Eating a healthy diet
Eating a balanced diet for your brain and body is important to maintaining good health. Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids, green leafy vegetables, and fruits are good for mental health.
Meeting people close to you and staying in touch
When we say “Ask for help”, it not only means talking to a therapist alone. Creating a support system with your loves ones can help you take care of your mental health.
Getting proper sleep
Getting proper sleep is important to maintain the proper functioning of the body. Sleep and mood are very closely interlinked. Lack of sleep can cause stress and irritability. And it can also lead to major physical health issues that in turn can lead to psychological problems.
Apart from the methods mentioned above, the illness-wellness continuum is a great example of promoting preventive treatment and wellness. Let’s learn more about it.
Through this continuum, John W. Travis suggests that attaining a high level of wellness requires awareness, education, and growth. On the other hand, signs of illness, symptoms, and disability can negatively impact one’s health. This concept is imperative because it encourages preventive treatment, improving well-being before an individual exhibits signs or symptoms of illness, as well as educating people about risk factors and how to avoid them to protect against pathology and premature death.
The illness-wellness continuum states that the absence of physical symptoms does not mean that an individual is well. For instance, an individual may not exhibit visible physical symptoms of any physical illness but may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.
The two arrows indicate two spectrums: premature death on the left and high-level wellness on the right. The middle is the neutral point, where there is no visible illness. It shows the connection between the wellness paradigm and the treatment paradigm. The concept states that well-being is more of a dynamic than a static process.
We can benefit from the illness-wellness continuum by making positive lifestyle changes that move us to the right on the continuum. The goal should be to progress down the wellness paradigm, passing through awareness, education, and growth to achieve the goal of improved health. Grit and resilience are key factors in coping with mental health pressures. The passion and perseverance toward long-term goals is grit, whereas resilience is the oil that keeps the engine moving. They are important concepts to study in order to better understand and improve the chances of personal well-being and move towards the right to attain high-level wellness.
Need for Promotion and Prevention of Mental Health
Promotion and prevention are two words with different meanings. The need for the promotion and prevention of mental health has gradually grown over time. Accordingly, the goal of mental health promotion is to promote positive mental health by increasing psychological well-being, competence, and resilience, as well as by creating supportive living environments. Prevention, on the other hand, aims to reduce the symptoms of mental disorders. The difference between these two terms lies in their aim.
Promotion of mental health can be done through the:
- School and workplace mental health programs
- Early childhood interventions
- Social support and community engagement
- Anti-discrimination programs
- Additional intervention plans that address the social determinants of mental health
Mental health prevention can be done through:
- Preventive intervention like mental health screening at schools and work
- Primary prevention which includes health promotion & specific protection
- Secondary & tertiary prevention which includes early diagnosis and treatment, disability limitation, and rehabilitation
- Encouraging positive development by focusing on resilience
Psychological illnesses cannot always be treated because of its severity and duration. It is not entirely possible to prevent psychological illness, but it is possible to be careful and control the symptoms because the cause of psychological illness is not always clear. The illness-wellness continuum can be beneficial to spread awareness regarding illness and its treatment to achieve optimal health.
There can be many causes of mental illness, like past trauma, family history, biological factors, etc., but not all causes are always clear and remain undiagnosed. Hence, take good care of yourself by eating well, sleeping well, staying connected, and do not avoid signs and symptoms of any mental discomfort that you might notice. Promotion and prevention of mental health have become important with time through various intervention plans and mental health programs.