What Mental Health Needs is More Unashamed Conversation
by Justene Smith

October 2014 - ‘Mental Health’ is regarded as a state of well-being in which an individual realises their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.

Justene, Occupational Support Co-ordinator  at Progression, will be offering her insight over the month of October, recognised as World Mental Health Awareness Month, around managing mental health as well as the needs for rights & equality in the workplace.

According to the HealthSA website, 1 in 4 people experience conditions that affect their ‘mental health’ at some point in their lives.  With this statistic in mind mental well-being and any conditions that might affect it should be considered as everybody’s business. 

A mental health condition, most commonly referred to as a disorder or illness, is a medical condition that may disrupt a person’s thinking, feelings, mood, ability to relate to others and engagement in activities of daily living. The most commonly experienced mental illnesses include depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar mood disorder and schizophrenia – each of which have their own symptoms  and ways of being individually managed.

Experts such as psychologists and psychiatrists are unable to pinpoint a single cause to mental health disorders or illnesses.  They explain that it is rather a combination of physical, biological, psychological or social factors which ultimately impact on the emotional functioning of an individual.  Although there may be symptoms or behaviours that assist Health Practitioners in diagnosing specific mental health conditions, it is important to remember that each person’s experience of their condition may be different and needs to be managed as such.

The term psychiatric disability is often heard and used when mental illness significantly interrupts the performance of a person’s major life activities such as learning, working and communicating amongst others.

The SA Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) states that one of the biggest perceived barriers surrounding the understanding and acceptance of mental illness is lack of awareness and education.  Creating awareness around this subject is about understanding that mental well-being and mental illness is a reality for people worldwide. Encouraging individuals to seek guidance and information regarding their mental well-being is very important. Most importantly is the need to ‘unpack’ and ‘shut the door on’ stigma surrounding mental illness!  If we talk about it, acknowledge that it exists and realise that there are channels for treatment and support, we can create a more inclusive society which encourages people to develop and live to their full potential.

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.” Glenn Close

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