Often at times we find ourselves ignoring the definition of words without understanding the full extent of what we’re saying. Words like “retard”, or “depressed” come to mind. In neglecting the true meaning of these words, we devalue the significance of them. “Retard”, although having become some sort of diss, is actually a slur for someone with a mental health disorder. Similarly, being “depressed” is a clinical term associated with having this prolonged feeling of sadness, extending anywhere from a week to a month and therefore, it goes without saying, that we all need to be more sensitive when using language to express ourselves.

In order to delve deeper into what “good mental health”, we need to understand what it means. Good mental health refers to mental and psychological well-being (according to the World Health Organisation). Based on this we can assume maintaining a good work-life balance.

What is a mental health disorder?

A mental health disorder is an illness that affects your way of living and can often impact the behavioural and emotional aspects of a person suffering from said diseases. Mental health disorders are wide-ranging including but not limited to things such as: depression, social anxiety disorder, schizophrenia. It’s important to remember that mental health is a spectrum. The severity of something like depression isn’t uniform throughout everyone who may have this ailment. Furthermore, I’d like to stress the fact that one shouldn’t believe everything they may see on social media platforms or even television. Portrayals of mental health can often be unrealistic and can even be inaccurate in several cases. Some shows, however, like “Atypical” apply more sensitivity to the subject and the outcome, although understandably not perfect, is a step forward in raising awareness.

Is there a definitive cure?

Presumably, there are pharmaceutical paths in which one can manage the symptoms of the disease; emphasis on manage. Typically, drugs don’t completely cure a mental health illness, instead they will make one asymptomatic or reduce distressing symptoms for a limited time. Anti-depressants such as SSRIs – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are prescribed to people who may have depression. Anti-psychotics are prescribed to soothe the distressing symptoms of illnesses like: schizophrenia and sometimes bipolar disorder. There are several other drugs which have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders, however this is one form of treatment.

Another form of treatment takes into account one’s social circumstances. Cognitive behavioural therapy looks at managing one’s social situation and developing strategies in managing negative stimulants in your environment. It also looks at ones thought process – looking at the connections between your thoughts, almost mapping out someone’s though processing and as a result identifying and developing strategies to manage said negative stimulants.

There is also talking treatment – which many of you probably already have a rough understanding of. Essentially, it is when you talk through your problems, divulging your problems in a trained psychiatrist. Each psychiatrist is different, maintaining a different style to their therapy interestingly enough. This makes any sort of treatment so much more specialised, which is a general trend in medicine. Key targets of this treatment are: developing a rapport with your psychiatrist and in doing so developing the ability to create and maintain healthy relationships with the people around you; improving your standard of living by developing strategies to manage any sort of triggers; managing any sort of upsetting memories and solving specific problems one might have in their day-to-day life.

In conclusion, mental health is a very sensitive issue and, in many cases, doesn’t receive the deserved importance in society, as aforementioned, through the inappropriate use of terms which belittle the condition it describes. Finally, regardless of what media may suggest, having a mental health illness is not a bad thing to be ashamed of, it’s what you do in light of the condition which defines you as a person.

Thank you for reading and follow up on: if you are interested in the work being done to reduce discrimination in the workplace regarding mental health illness.

Vithusan Kuganathan

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