Mental Health and Its Impact on the Community: A Case Study

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Emotional, physical, and psychological well-being are all aspects of mental health. It affects a person's thinking, feelings, and behaviors. The state of one's mental health influences how they interact with others, deal with stress and make decisions. Mental health is needed at every point of a person's life, from childhood to adulthood. An individual suffering from mental illness can experience difficulties with their thought, mood, and behavior. Biological influences such as brain chemistry, life experiences, and family history of individuals with the same condition trigger mental disorders. Mental health issues in society have been on the rise in recent years, necessitating urgent action. Mental health is beneficial to not only the individual but also to the whole community. Australia is on the frontline in ensuring mental health to the citizens. This case study focuses on various ways of promoting mental health in Australia. 

Mental Health Week in Australia

In every five Australians, one is likely to have mental problems in the next one year. This data adds up to about almost 50 percent of the whole population in their lifetime (Kelly et al., 2007). Therefore, the World Health Organization has set aside October 10 to be World Mental Health Day. It is a day when people in the whole world make their health promises and share them on the social media. Australia goes further by establishing Mental Health Week that coincides with this day. In 2016, The Mental Health Week was held from eighth to 15 October with a topic, Act-Belong-Commit with attention on suicide aversion, ‘together we can save lives.' The Mental Health Coalition of each state coordinates the events and activities that take place in this week. In South Australia, the week was accompanied by discussions, poetry, stalls and the attendance was free making it accessible for every individual. The year 2017 marks 50 years since the Mental Health Week was initiated. It is a week accompanied by mental health education, advocacy, and awareness. Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan in 2016 stated that if signs of mental illness are recognized on time, it becomes easier to deal with the problem. Unfortunately, only one of four persons seeks medical advice when they are stressed. People tend to neglect their mental health but concentrate on physical well-being. 

The initiative has set its hopes on establishing a shared understanding of mental and psychological health among the public and various organizational bodies. The core aims include teaching people on how to offer basic mental health aid to distressed people just as they do in case of a physical health crisis. Mental health problems require first aid since it is easier to deal with stress than dealing with mental illness (Sawyer et al., 2000). The initiative also spread an understanding on how mental and physical health integrates into treatment process. Therefore, both should be accorded equal importance. It provides cultural learning materials to the public as a way of increasing skills in administering mental health first aid. The initiative also addresses the stigma associated with mental problems hence promoting and respecting dignity. The Mental Health Week encourages people to seek help when necessary. It is also a period to celebrate the achievements of various staffs working in the mental health sector and those living with mental disorders.

Mental Health Week has succeeded to serve as a reminder to people of Australia. It informs the need to think about their mental health those around them. It brings the concept of working together to support one another, build resilience, and celebrate diversity and activities to promote mental health. The 2017 Mental Health Week is scheduled on eighth to 14 October, and the aim will be ‘Stronger Together.' The Annual Awards that recognize the individual and organizational contributions in the Mental Health sector promote the success of reducing mental problems. The awards promote unity in a shared passion for destigmatising mental problems.   

The role of the government in addressing mental health 

The state plays an essential role for the treatment of mental illnesses. The federal government plays an essential role in ensuring equality especially in reducing discrimination of the mentally ill people. The government ensures that individual rights are protected. Persons with mental problems in Australia suffer from horrible abuse right at home and at mental hospitals. This abuse is a major psychological distress and hinders recovery. The rights of every citizen are a major concern to the government, and these vulnerable individuals need protection. The government has the mandate to enforce laws responding to abuses by ensuring there are private rights of action to protect these individuals (Wrigley et al., 2005).

The government should ensure there is fair treatment of individuals with mental problems. In Australia, many people with mental problems face unfair treatment such as expulsion from schools, increased chances of incarceration, and limited opportunities for employment and housing agencies. Some are denied comprehensive health care (Parslow & Jorm, 2000). Different countries, for example, the U.S. has set up different laws, for instance, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to guarantee that individuals with mental issues take an interest all the more similar in different setting. It is the part of the legislature to assure that individuals with mental issues are regarded.

The government has the role of providing safety net services such as food, housing, and related supports. These services help these people to rebuild and maintain their lives in the society while confronting mental illness. The government should come in to wipe out the ongoing gaps in accessing effective treatment. The government should focus on prevention and early intervention of mental treatment. Prevention and intervention should be made available to everyone (Haggerty & Mrazek, 1994). Mental Health Week is a case in point of how the government is ensuring that the public is well enlightened on matters concerning mental health. The health care is addressing risk factors and screening necessary to all people to recognize some of these mental conditions in early stages. The screening equipment is made available in various health centers. Mental health screening delivers consumer-friendly, cost-effective, and recovery-oriented prevention services.

Varieties of researches are being conducted on a daily basis. This research includes realizing how the brain works and various factors influencing behavioral health. The government has the role of funding such researchers since they will yield effective treatments. The issue of mental disorders should be addressed as a health crisis. The same way the government addresses outbreak of dangerous diseases such as Ebola and cholera should also be diverted to mental problems. The address should be aimed at achieving a coordinated national response. The crisis of mental health is because of economic, social, and environmental factors.

The role of the non-government agencies in addressing mental health

The Non-Governmental Organizations play an essential role in addressing mental health. Most of the NGOs in Southern Australia are engaged in collecting high-quality data that will enable the Mental Health Commission (MHC) to perform their duties, improve the relationship between the carers and the consumers to enable quality performance (Whiteford et al., 2002). The MHC has the responsibility of meeting State and National reporting obligations. Some of the central roles played by the NGOs include increasing awareness of the public on the need of getting concerned about their mental health. The NGOs has initiated some community-based mental health programs. These programs help in providing proper community-based treatment for people with mental problems. Secondly, the non-governmental organizations in most cases win the trust and establish ties with the local communities, and it becomes easier for people with such problems to come out and get help. NGOs initiate secondary prevention focusing on minimizing handicaps because of mental disorders. Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) for both children and adult mental disabilities contribute to deal with hyperactivity and dyslexia (Herrman et al., 2005). 

NGOs play a significant role in research and training. Mental Health Non-Governmental Organizations (MHNGOs) are on the forefront when it comes to health research in Australia. Some of this research includes the study on schizophrenia and dementia in the Australian society. Many NGOs in Australia conduct these researches and release results to the public as a way of curbing chronic illnesses. A good example is the National Stroke Foundation that researched the impact of stroke as a way of preventing the spread. The same way in mental health, NGOs research to find the most affected areas and various ways of reducing mental illnesses. Some NGOs go to the extent of funding mental health initiatives and treatment processes in the society (Elder et al., 2008). NGOs send trained personnel who aid the government officials in educating and offering treatment to the population.

The value of engaging community in mental health initiatives

Australia is determined in engaging the community in mental health initiatives. It is important to join the society since it reaffirms the principles of partnership and facilitating the rights of the people in determining the kind of services they require in mental health promotion. Health is holistic. To prioritize and create emphasis on mental health, the government needs to recognize the community. The community has a better understanding of family and kin, spiritual dimension of existence and traditional issues, which contribute much as far as mental health is concerned. The government puts in place policy initiatives that rely much on specific areas, symptomatology, and epidemiology (Kelly et al., 2007). Some jurisdictions apply indigenous traditional healers to combine traditional treatment with the new medical approaches.

It is important to allow people exercise their right to self-determination and control. Perceiving the group in mental wellness activities depicts that their well-being is exceptionally essential in the accomplishment of the objectives of self-assurance. When you encourage a feeling of control to the community, you make a superior comprehension on the need of emotional well-being and prosperity. It reestablishes a sense of identity and belonging to the general population. Secondly, human rights are recognized. Working within the framework of human rights is overlooked in health and social policy development. Respecting human rights reduces mental disorders. Therefore, the involvement of the community in health policy is respecting human rights, and it promotes mental well-being (Tobin et al., 2002).

Mental health requires cultural understanding. There is the great importance of involving the community in enhancing mental health. Incorporating people's knowledge in various programs and educational services improves their effectiveness. These projects ought to have a secure feeling of social personality and should hold fast to individuals' social rights and duties. Incorporating holistic and culturally safe programs meets diverse physical, emotional and well-being needs of the families. Involving the community also portrays respect for families, cultural language, and gender groups. Cultural resilience is achieved by recognizing the family, community, culture and the environment. Strong cultural identity helps to promote identity, a source of strength and continuity in the ongoing address of stress and adversity. Engaging the community recognizes the centrality of kinship. Integrating the community in various aspects of mental health planning incorporates social and cultural realities of people's lives and beliefs. Understanding the role played by the familial relationships determine mental health and emotional well-being.

Engaging the community in mental health initiatives helps to reach the indigenous groups. Colonization left behind some enduring legacy of policies such as segregation, exclusion and forced separation of families. These legacies are pervasive and affect health and well-being of various indigenous communities (Hunter et al., 2012). When the community is engaged in health initiatives, it becomes easier to reach these people and offer the required help. These ongoing effects if not addressed have a direct association with poverty, incarceration and mental health conditions. Numerous cases of racism and stigma in contemporary Australia hinder them from accessing health services. These cases cause psychological distress and pave the way for increased alcohol and substance abuse. Application of these initiatives among the community is a key point in addressing racism right from individual and organizational levels of mental health.

The role and impact of the media in promoting mental health

The mass media significantly affects how people perceive and the level of exposure to people, in general, making it have huge impacts in the community. Media shapes people's understanding concerning those who surround them. In the recent past, people with mental problems were perceived negatively and inaccurate portrayals. A decent case is the inaccurate portrayals of schizophrenia that was regularly mistaken for multiple personality disorder. This perplexity prompted false convictions, disarray, and deferred medications. Most of the mental illnesses can be attributed to stigma. This stigma comes because of exclusion of mentally ill persons from the society (Rose, 1998).

Media is people in general's noteworthy wellspring of information concerning mental problems (Coverdale et al., 2002). Television plays a significant role in framing human consciousness and can override personal experience concerning how they view mental illness. Words have power. On the off chance, that media tend to utilize new dialect that propagates myths and generalizations concerning emotional wellness then they advance wrong presumptions and dread in the group. Disgrace caused by contrary media scope triggers separation, preference, and makes mental sick individuals fail to acquire adequate housing, training, and business activities. It additionally goes to the degree of blocking recovery. Negative media images promote inaccurate perceptions concerning mental illnesses (Cutcliffe & Hannigan, 2001). 

However, despite media being attributed to having adverse effects, it has its positivity in the society. Media is very effective in ensuring public participation in various health initiatives such as the Mental Health Week. Information concerning participation necessity passed across media is likely to reach many people. Secondly, if media is used to discriminate sensational language towards the mentally ill people, then it can be helpful in improving their self-esteem and hasten recovery. Mass media campaigns over the years target community-wide issues such as control of AIDS and smoking behavior. However, the same media can be useful in breaking down various stereotypes and misconceptions concerning mental health, which is a substantial barrier to mentally ill people (Pirkis et al., 2008).

Mental health causes distress and can lead poor day-to-day functioning of an individual. Everybody has the role in ensuring that mental infections are reduced. If one experiences prolonged depression, social withdrawal, confused thinking, delusions, extreme lows or highs feeling and anxieties, they ought to be advised to visit mental checkup immediately. These are some of the immediate signs of mental health problem. The government and non-government agencies should keep on health initiative and ensure it reaches everybody in the community. The media should engage positively in this matter for the success of every individual. In conclusion, it is better to live poor but be healthy.

References

Coverdale, J., Nairn, R., & Claasen, D. (2002). Depictions of mental illness in print media: A prospective national sample. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36(5), 697-700.

Cutcliffe, J. R., & Hannigan, B. (2001). Mass media, ‘monsters’ and mental health clients: the need for increased lobbying. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 8(4), 315-321.

Elder, R., Evans, K., & Nizette, D. (2008). Psychiatric and mental health nursing. Elsevier Australia.

Haggerty, R. J., & Mrazek, P. J. (Eds.). (1994). Reducing risks for mental disorders: Frontiers for preventive intervention research. National Academies Press.

Herrman, H., Saxena, S., Moodie, R., & World Health Organization. (2005). Promoting mental health: concepts, emerging evidence, practice: a report of the World Health Organization, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in collaboration with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation and the University of Melbourne.

Hunter, E., Milroy, H., Brown, N., & Calma, T. (2012). Human rights, health, and Indigenous Australians. Mental health and human rights: Vision, praxis, and courage, 448-464.

Kelly, C. M., Jorm, A. F., & Wright, A. (2007). Improving mental health literacy as a strategy to facilitate early intervention for mental disorders. Medical Journal of Australia, 187(7), S26.

Parslow, R. A., & Jorm, A. F. (2000). Who uses mental health services in Australia? An analysis of data from the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 34(6), 997-1008.

Pirkis, J., Blood, R. W., Dare, A., Holland, K., Rankin, B., Williamson, M., ... & Chandler, S. (2008). The Media Monitoring Project: Changes in media reporting of suicide and mental health and illness in Australia: 2000. Commonwealth of Australia.

Rose, D. (1998). Television, madness and community care. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 8(3), 213-228.

Sawyer, M. G., Arney, F. M., Baghurst, P. A., Clark, J. J., Graetz, B. W., Kosky, R. J., ... & Rey, J. (2000). The mental health of young people in Australia (Doctoral dissertation, Blackwell Science).

Tobin, M., Chen, L., & Leathley, C. (2002). Consumer participation in mental health services: who wants it and why?. Australian Health Review, 25(3), 91-100.

Whiteford, H., Buckingham, B., & Manderscheid, R. (2002). Australia's national mental health strategy. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 180(3), 210-215.

Wrigley, S., Jackson, H., Judd, F., & Komiti, A. (2005). Role of stigma and attitudes toward help‐seeking from a general practitioner for mental health problems in a rural town. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 39(6), 514-521.

May 04, 2022
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