Why is Mental Health Literacy Important?

By: Aishwarya Jain founder of IM Happiness

IM Happiness is a community that believes happiness is a skill to be enhanced by training and practice. The team works day and night to help the sufferers get rid of their mental chaos and teach them the skill of being optimistic and happy in every situation, either favorable or adverse. They work on the aim of the United Nations Goals of promoting good health and well-being and have worked closely with the organization. The team is utilizing the power of Science and Spirituality in achieving this aim.

Mental health is an essential and integral part of human health. It enhances the competencies of individuals and communities thereby enabling them to achieve their self-determined goals. The magnitude of mental disorders is a growing public health concern. Mental disorders are common and universal, affecting people of all countries and societies, individuals of all ages, women and men, the rich and poor, from urban and rural communities. Mental disorders rank fifth among the major causes of
global burden of disease.

Mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health.  For example, depression increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for mental illness.

Global socioeconomic changes in recent years, including industrialisation, rapid population growth, urbanisation, and immigration, have created a wide range of mental disorders in different societies. Lack of awareness and stigma are the major barriers between persons with mental illness and opportunities to recover.  Studies have demonstrated that persons labelled as mentally ill are perceived with more negative attributes and are more likely to be rejected regardless of their behaviour.

Health literacy is important because every individual will be able to find, understand and use health information and services at some point in their life. "Health Literacy" has been defined as the ability to gain access to, understand, and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health. Lack of knowledge about mental illnesses poses a challenge to the mental health care delivery system. Awareness and health literacy are two sides of the same coin.

Mental health literacy is an important empowerment tool, as it helps people better understand their own mental health and enables them to act upon this information. It increases people’s resilience and control over their mental health and enhances help-seeking self-efficacy.   This includes knowing when and where to seek help and developing self-management skills. It can also empower people to effectively manage long-term mental health conditions. On a broader scale, improved mental health literacy may reduce the burden on health and social care services and reduce health inequalities.

We must be informed about it because it can easily happen to someone close to us.  Community awareness for mental health reduces stigma. Mental health awareness increases the chances for early intervention, which can result in a fast recovery.  Awareness reduces negative adjectives that have been set to describe people with a mental illness.
There are many risk factors for mental health that may be present in the working environment. Risks may be related to job content, such as unsuitable tasks for the person’s competencies or a high and unrelenting workload. Some jobs may carry a higher personal risk than others, which can have an impact on mental health and be a cause of symptoms of mental disorders, or lead to harmful use of alcohol or psychoactive drugs. Risk may be increased in situations where there is a lack of team cohesion or social support. Bullying and psychological harassment (also known as “mobbing”) are commonly reported causes of work-related stress by workers and present risks to the health of workers. They are associated with both psychological and physical problems. These health consequences can have costs for employers in terms of reduced productivity and increased staff turnover.

Mental health interventions should be delivered as part of an integrated health and well-being strategy that covers prevention, early identification, support and rehabilitation. Occupational health services or professionals may support organizations in implementing these interventions where they are available, but even when they are not, a number of changes can be made that may protect and promote mental health. Key to success is involving stakeholders and staff at all levels when providing protection, promotion and support interventions and when monitoring their effectiveness.

Research shows that unemployment, particularly long term unemployment, can have a detrimental impact on mental health.Because of the stigma associated with mental disorders, employers need to ensure that individuals feel supported and able to ask for support in continuing with or returning to work and are provided with the necessary resources to do their job.

By raising awareness, mental health can now be seen as an illness.  These illnesses can be managed by treatment.  We should not isolate mental illness from physical health conditions, such as diabetes, blood pressure, or cancer.
Here a few powerful things you can do to help:
●    Showing individuals respect and acceptance removes a significant barrier to successfully coping with their illness. Having people see you as an individual and not as your illness can make the biggest difference for someone who is struggling with their mental health.
●    Advocating within our circles of influence helps ensure these individuals have the same rights and opportunities as other members of your church, school and community.
●    Learning more about mental health allows us to provide helpful support to those affected in our families and communities.
It can be incredibly difficult for an individual to acknowledge that they are in need of treatment for a mental health condition, and even more so to ask for help. So no matter the struggle, everyone should view each other through a lens of compassion, understanding, and acknowledgment that sometimes, it’s okay to not be “okay.”