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.