Promoting health and preventing illness

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Mental Health

Mental health can be defined as individuals' mental well-being involving their emotions, ability to overcome difficulties and solve problems, thoughts, and feelings, understanding of the surroundings and social connections. Mental well-being enables individuals to realize their own potential, cope with the normal stresses of life and also work fruitfully and productively so as to make a positive contribution to the community. Recent studies also indicate that high level of mental health is associated with increased creativity and productivity, learning, positive social relationships, and pro-social behavior as well as the improved life expectancy and physical health, seen in people (Brooks, 2001). An example of mental health is the individual with depression and anxiety who gets out of his or her bed every day, creates his day's objectives, takes small steps towards achieving the objectives, and then acknowledges the bravery and progress at the end of the day. Another example is a teen athlete who is cut from his or her team but trains hard, with grit and determination, so as to make it to the team in the following season.

Mental Illness

Mental illness, on the other hand, is a health condition that involves changes in the individual's emotions, thinking or behavior. It is also associated with distress or problems of functioning properly at work, social and family activities. Mental illness consists of a wide variety of disorders, ranging from those that impair an individual's ability to function in life to the ones that cause mild stress (Slee, Dix & Askell-Williams, 2012). However, there are two perspectives on the reasons why individuals get these illnesses; one is the biological perspective stating that mental illness is a bodily process, and psychological perspective stating that mental illnesses are brought by the environment and upbringing of the individuals. Examples of mental illness are individuals with brain problems which impacts their thoughts and perception about a situation that they are facing.

Mental Health Problems

Mental health problems represent a range of problems faced by individuals ranging from the worries that people experience in their everyday life to some serious long-term conditions. According to Crowe & Averett (2015), the majority of individuals who experience this problem can get over them or learn how to live with the problems if they get assistance on time. The main reason as to why mental health problems are defined is to enable professionals to refer the individuals experiencing them for proper care and treatment because there are many controversial diagnoses in the mental health field.

Risk Factors for Mental Health Problems

According to Hromek & Roffey (2009), some of the factors that put one into the risk of developing mental health problems are anxiety and depression because they affect the individuals' ability to get on with their lives. People with these problems may start to hear voices, see things that nobody else sees, feel unrealistically powerful, hold irrational or unusual beliefs or even read particular meanings into everyday events. Most of the individuals with mental health problems are afraid of the reactions made by other people, thus keep their feelings to themselves.

Increasing Rates of Mental Illness

A recent study shows that the number of Americans suffering from mental illnesses has been increasing and is likely to continue rising in the future if proper interventions are not taken. One of the mental conditions which seem to have increased serious psychological distress (SPD), which according to Crowe & Averett (2015) combines feelings like worthlessness, sadness, and restlessness that are hazardous enough to impair individual's physical wellbeing. SPD may not be a medical diagnosis, but it is an excellent measure of the community's mental health as it overlaps with conditions like anxiety and depression, substantially. The mental problems are triggered by many factors which include; increased parental and performance pressures, gender confusion, the breakdown of the family units and reduced parental contact among others. While life gets easier in terms of work and survival, the norms of society have changed which makes it more difficult on the individuals' health, both emotionally and psychologically. This change is negatively affecting today's community especially the children. The study also found that the shortage of resources for mental health patients is another alarming trend that results in an increase in mental problems (Crowe & Averett, 2015). Mental illnesses, in turn, increase the risk factors for suicide. Part of the reason for the increase is that individuals with mental illness usually have a tough time trying to navigate the complexity of the health care sector. They also find getting a job and keeping steady income to be very challenging. Another factor attributed to the increase is the lack of experienced and available therapists and physicians to help individuals with mental illnesses.

Protective Factors and Risk Moderation

However, there are multiple factors that could moderate the impact of the risk factors and also lessen the likelihood of the occurrence of mental illnesses in individuals. The protective factors rest with the affected individuals and the community and may vary across the lifespan. Some of these factors include emotional resilience, robust self-esteem, and strong social networks. As prevention involves minimizing and understanding the factors that heighten the risk, enhancing the ones which improve resistance to mental illness is crucial to lessen its impacts. Therefore, universal efforts targeting the whole communities aiming to promote emotional resilience in individuals or even impacting some aspects of the social environment is absolutely necessary. The selective interventions not only target the individuals who are displaying signs of mental illness but also those who exhibit the risk factors that predispose them to mental health problems in the future.

Changing Protective Factors and Risk

Therefore, changing the protective factors and risk at an individual or community level needs coordinated and sustained efforts across various sectors (Brenda, 2012). Also, lessening the incidence or impact of mental illness will require a lot of mental screening and educating the community at the primary care level and also providing more help to individuals who are distressed, and also those who cannot manage their mental health care on their own. Exploring the ways that would make mental health professionals more available to individuals who need them the most would also help minimize mental illnesses. A good example of a strategy that can be used to minimize the impact of mental health is the education sector working together with the mental health sector so as to deliver emotional resilience programs in learning institutions. In this case, the program should be aimed at protecting the students from performance pressures which are brought by a high desire to achieve certain academic targets.

Handling a Work Colleague with Mental Health Problems

The best way of handling a work colleague who has a mental health problem is to first pay attention to sudden changes in behaviors and thoughts of the person so as to identify any signs of mental illness in him. Some of these signs may include confused thinking, prolonged depression which may make him appear sad for a longer period than expected, strong feelings of anger towards other people, social withdrawal, substance abuse, and growing inability to cope with problems and daily activities (McNamara, 2013). It is also important to identify changes in the person's performance in the job because in most cases when a person develops mental health problems, there are chances that he/she will perform poorly or even resign from employment. After noticing some of these signs, it is advisable to help the person where necessary and avoid abandoning him because the feeling of loneliness or discrimination can worsen the condition.

Diagnosing the Problem

After understanding the signs of mental illness in this colleague, diagnosing the problem should be the next step in handling the situation. According to Hromek & Roffey (2009), mental problem diagnosis is a complex process and therefore should only be done by a licensed professional. In this case, the person should be diagnosed by a professional and licensed medical practitioner in order to attain the right results. This diagnosis is very important as it helps in determining whether the signs seen from the colleague are actually a mental disorder or extreme personality traits (Simpson & Ferguson, 2014). For example, a colleague suffering from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder may be brushed off by the other colleagues or friends as mere cleanliness and vigilance, only to be realized later that it was a more serious condition than it previously seemed. Also, when talking to the friend or colleague who might be believed to have a mental disorder, it will be very important to reserve judgment as it might stress the person even more.

Encouraging Open Communication

It is also crucial to encourage the person to talk about the problem with someone because most of the people who experience this condition are always afraid to speak out. The reason why it is fundamental to talk about the issue with others is that keeping silent about the problem worsens the symptoms and this may result in life-threatening activities such as deciding to commit suicide. The next step to handling mental illness is educating the patient's family and friends on how to live with the person.

Treatment Options

It is also crucial to determine the best treatment for the condition because according to Jacob (2015), treatment options vary from disorder to disorder. In this case, treatment is very crucial because it is an effective way of managing the signs and symptoms of the identified medical illness. Lastly, it is crucial to allow the patient to determine the best treatment solutions based on his lifestyle and needs because some of the patients prefer a holistic approach while others prefer a traditional approach of therapy and medication.


Brenda C. (2012). Promoting health and preventing illness: promoting mental health in community nursing practice. Contemporary nurse. 41, 23-32.

Brooks, R. B. (2001). Fostering motivation, hope, and resilience in children with learning disorders. Annals of Dyslexia, 51(1), 9-20.

Crowe, & Averett, A. (2015). Attitudes of mental health professionals towards mental illness: a deeper understanding. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 37, 21-27.

Hromek, R., & Roffey, S. (2009). Promoting Social and Emotional Learning With Games: “It’s Fun and We Learn Things”. Simulation & Gaming, 40(5), 626-644.

Jacob K. (2015). Recovery model of mental illness: A complementary approach to psychiatric care. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 37, 12-36.

McNamara, P. M. (2013). Adolescent suicide in Australia: rates, risk, and resilience. Clinical child psychology and psychiatry, 18(3), 351-369.

Simpson, & Ferguson, A. (2014). The role of university support services on academic outcomes for students with mental illness, Education Research International, 32-37.

Slee, P. T., Dix, K. L., & Askell-Williams, H. (2012). Whole-school mental health promotion in Australia.

August 14, 2023



Illness Mental Health

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