Mental illness appears in various forms. It is characterized by some serious disruptions in someone's thoughts or even demonstrated in their actions. The person presenting these symptoms is often unable to deal with the day-to-day activities and patterns of a normal life. Mental illness can take over 200 forms each having an effect on the patient's disposition, character, traits, and even the way they interact with others. Some of the common forms of mental illness are 'schizophrenia', 'depression,' 'bipolar disorders' and 'dementia'. Taylor and Brown (1988) state that mental illness can be presented in a psychological, emotional way and even in physical symptoms. A person under severe stress due to dealing with an incident or series of stressors' build-up over time is prone to mental illness. A person may also present symptoms of mental illness through a biochemical imbalance, a negative reaction to his environment, and the pressures accrued thereby, and even because of his/her specific genetic makeup. Patients may recover from mental illness or learn to manage their conditions under the provision of care and appropriate treatment (Mental Illness and the Family: Recognizing Warning Signs and How to Cope, n.d.). Although mental health is a concern for many people, mental illness arises and is recognized when a person is unable to operate normatively due to the illness. It can be observed in the way a person interacts with others, with their jobs and with their families. Medicine can sometimes be prescribed to treat it in addition to suggestions of therapy sessions (Clinic, 2015).
Effects of Mental Illness
Mental illness can affect the patient personally as well as socially. The patient who suffers from it may suffer severe side effects from the medicine that has been prescribed for them. For example, the person may suffer memory lapses, their emotions may be negatively affected, and they may not be alert as before, their ability to take action may be impaired along with their ability to interact well with others (Taylor, et.al, 2003). The other side of the illness presents challenges from the society which may stigmatize the person who is suffering the mental illness. At the same time, the person can also self-stigmatize as a result of taking in the stigma from the society (Nezlek et al., 1997). Thus, it is important to understand mental illness through various approaches and the effects of its treatments as well (Maddux and Tangney, 2011).
Evaluating the patient for mental illness is the first step in the process of diagnosing the illness. This is normally done by a professional in the field who will evaluate the symptoms. Medical history of the patient is probed through questioning. The patient will be given an opportunity to express their symptoms after which a physical evaluation may also be done. The professional will seek to eliminate any other extraneous, uncontrolled causes of the symptoms through the preliminary examination so that the diagnosis can be accurate. For the patient diagnosed with mental illness, the next step is to be referred to a specialist who can confirm the diagnosis and offer alternatives for treatment. Some of these professionals are psychiatrists and psychologists. These specialists are better equipped to determine the presence of mental illness through various assessments. Some of the things that the assessments will bring out include any problems experienced as the person has been about his/her daily life such deterioration in social interactions or losing the ability to function well in the environment. Goldberg (2014) states that from these, the specialist can better diagnose the specific disorder the patient is suffering from.
Mental Illness and Self-stigma
Self-stigma arises when an individual internalizes the stigma that they are experiencing from the society. This self-stigma results in individuals sometimes exhibiting negative actions and mental reactions. The effects of self-stigma can be long lasting. Link, et al., (1987) demonstrated that these effects can stay even after the person has successfully undergone psychiatric treatment. The psychological impact persists. Thus, the person suffering from self-stigma is inhibited in his/her ability to be rehabilitated - of gaining desired independence and good employment.
Self-stigma can emanate from the types of stereotypes that society holds towards mental illness. From these stereotypes, the person who is suffering mental illness forms self-stigma from which problems such as lowered self-esteem and reduced capacity arise (Markowitz, 1998; Ritsher and...
Sometimes this reduction in a person's self-worth comes as a natural response to the society in which the patient is living and the specific stereotypes that are held by that society or culture (Trapnell & Campbell, 1999).
Some of the problems experienced by the people with acute mental health illness are lack of sleep, anxiety, constant fatigue and other related problems arising from these. It is often helpful for those presenting these symptoms to be given care through a diagnostic approach. Some of the alternative methods that mentally ill people are treated with include yoga, relaxation techniques, diet, self-help methods and others as highlighted by the Center for Mental Health Services. These methods have been helpful in aiding healing and the recovery of mental health patients. While some may opt for these methods alone, others choose traditional alternatives such as medication and the use of psychotherapy. However, alternative treatment methods have been found to be effective especially as it concerns pain, anxiety, and high blood pressure (Thobaben, 2004). These alternatives include acupuncture, techniques to reduce stress as well as techniques to affect the mind.
Mental Health and Social Capital
Some studies have attempted to find out whether there exists a relationship between mental health and social capital. However, due to the restrictions of the methods that were used, these studies have not been conclusive in their results. Majority of these research have been 'Cross-sectional' studies and these have been unable to determine how the two (mental health and social capital) are related in terms of direction. Tesser (1988) says that it is a possibility that a person's decrease in social interactions and their increasing inability to trust are a result of mental illness rather than mental illness resulting from these symptoms. There have been several methodical reviews of how mental illness affects social capital. The results of these reviews have been diverse. In some studies there has been proof that some aspects of mental illness are related to some aspects of social capital. In the cases where these associations have been proven, it has been seen that an aspect of trust and mutuality in the society serves as a determinant of better mental health (Corrigan et al., 2010).
On the other hand, other studies indicated that participation or structural social capital is related to poor mental health as opposed to earlier assertions that it was related to better mental health. However this may be because of the different aspects that were being measured in these studies. McKenzie and Harpham (2006) state that the relationship between social capital and mental illness is multi-faceted and is thus expected to present different results. However, there was one convincing study done in a community to explore the relationship between mental health and violence in the community. It was done in the U.S. where ten thousand respondents were interviewed. This study was part of the Epidemiological Catchment Area Survey and was done in three different settings. The presence of a mental disorder in a person was established through a Diagnostic Interview Schedule as required by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental Disorder. Those who were identified as presenting symptoms of a psychiatric disorder were four times more likely to be involved in violence. Those suffering multiple disorders also had important results. When co-morbidity was not considered, it appeared that schizophrenia and the abuse of substances had a high ranking with relation to violence as opposed to the respondents who did not exhibit any disorders. In a later study, where the respondents were mainly psychosis patients who had been treated and discharged, it was discovered that their inclination to violence was similar to those without any history of mental illness (Johnson, et al., 1997).
In some studies where birth cohorts have been researched, there has been more leaning toward the existence of an association between mental health and violence. Of those with mental disorders, women were 8.66 times and men were 4.48 times more likely to commit an offense related to violence as opposed to other members of society (Kurman, 2001).
Limitations to studies
Some limitations have been noted concerning the studies seeking to establish the association between mental illness and violence. The issue of those who are mentally ill being criminalized is one of the factors most studies have failed to take into account. There is a tendency in society to arrest the mentally ill for an offense where a person who was not mentally ill might not have been arrested. Another issue is that of deviance being classified medically. In this process, the perpetrators of violence are treated as psychiatric cases. These are important issues that need to be taken into account in…
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