Uploaded by Misel Djordjevic

Social issue on mental health

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The social issue that I chose is mental illness.
What is mental illness?
Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior.
Mental illnesses are associated with distress or problems functioning in social, work or family
activities.
What causes mental illness?
Researchers are still trying to understand what causes mental illness. There is no direct
cause it can happen due to a mix of factors including genetics, how your brain works, how
you grew up, your environment, your social group or your culture and life experience.
Some examples of these factors include:
Genetic factors, having a close family member with a mental illness can increase the risk.
Drug and alcohol abuse for example drugs such as cocaine or marijuana can cause
paranoia.
Trauma and stress, traumatic life events or ongoing stress such as social isolation or if
you’ve been in a war zone can increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder
What are the consequences of mental illness?
Mental ill-health and poverty are highly linked in a complex negative cycle. Research shows
that mental disorders are twice as high among the poor compared to the rich. Depression
ranges from 1.5 to 2 times higher among those in low income bracket compared to the high
income group. Poor people lack resources to finance a basic living standard. In most cases,
they have low level of education hence high chances of being unemployed. They are
exposed to poor living conditions with poor access to health facilities. Having poverty means
an individual ability to earn is reduced since they cannot work to full capacity. This makes
poverty to be a consequence of poor mental health. Also, poor mental health may occur as a
result of being poor. This is due to the stress of managing a lean income. An example is
people living in slums and having a burden of educating their children. Poverty also leads to
low self-esteem which may result in poor mental health. This is especially with the stigma
which is associated with the welfare receipt system.
Mental illness leads to disability which impacts the entire society. The society faces a major
cost as it is forced to exclude people with disability from taking part in an active life. This
leads to a diminishing productivity and loss in human capital.
The global spending on mental illness is high with countries such as USA having to spend
about 2.5 of their GDP on caring for mental illness. Mental illness leads to a reduction on the
quality of life among those affected. The society is thus highly affected both directly and
indirectly from mental illness. In Australia, the costs of supporting people with mental illness
are estimated to be at least $28.6billion in 2014. This shows that the society carries a huge
burden in caring for the mental illness.
Mental illness reduces employment prospects, productivity and wages. Around 5% of people
of working age have a severe mental health disorder; a further 15% have a less severe
disorder at any given time. The OECD estimates than 1 in 2 people of working age will have
their work affected by mental health problems at some point.
The employment rate of people with mental health disorders is 10-15% lower than those with
good mental health. People with severe mental health problems are 6-7 times more likely to
be unemployed, and with mild-to-moderate problems 2-3 times more likely to be unemployed
compared to the general population. This has implications for working age benefit costs.
Employed people with mental health problems also have more absences from work.Three
quarters of people with mental health disorders report that it affects their productivity at work.
Lack of employment in a society increases levels of poverty. This makes it hard for people
diagnosed with mental illness to access health care. Also, a lot of money is spent on wrong
and ineffective mental health care which leads to more loss to society and the individual
does not get well.
How can we reduce mental illness in society?
Increase social, professional, and political awareness of advancements and the importance
of mental health prevention and promotion
Promote healthy lifestyle including nutrition and exercise
Encourage school-based interventions targeting children, parents, and education
professionals.
Successful programmes and policies should be made available. Making effective
programmes and policies widely available would provide countries and communities with a
spectrum of preventive tools to tackle mental disorders.
Some studies suggest the positive effects of friendship on the well-being of older people,
especially older women. Befriending is a widely used strategy to increase social support and
to reduce loneliness and depression among the elderly. So far only one quasi-experimental
outcome study is available confirming that befriending programmes for older women can
significantly reduce loneliness and increase the making of new friends.
Conclusion
Through use of sociological perspective, it becomes possible to look at mental illness as a
social issue. It is evident that the population in low social class and those living in poverty
have higher possibility of developing mental illness. For the developing countries, cases of
mental illness are high due to poverty. There is a relationship between mental illness and
poverty.The costs of mental illness are very high in the society. This ranges from reduced
productivity to the costs of caring affected individuals. This shows that mental illness is a
social problem. Through social model of health, it becomes possible to understand mental
health as a social problem.
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