By Yousif Farah
The effects of mental ill health can be more severe than those caused by a physical condition; in most cases a physical illnesses is cured in due course with the right treatment and care. Whereas, the impact of mental ill health is endured by the patient over years, decades even a life time.
One could contrast a mental disease to a virus affecting a computer, rendering it dysfunctional, unable to carry out simple tasks. Even if cured of the virus it is unlikely to perform as formerly. Similar with mental illness, once it strikes the impact is hard to rub off.
Campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Week, helped in shaping a better understanding of mental illness, also significantly replacing the stigma that had surrounded mental illness for decades with an empathetic approach towards mental illnesses, thus paving the way for major reforms.
The 2010 Equality Act recognized mental health illness as a disability if it has a long-term effect on the patient’s normal day-to-day life.
However, the stigma is by no means completely a thing of the past. Sadly, some people some of whom are in sensitive positions still ridicule mental illness and those affected by it.
This is what television personality Katie Hopkins had to say to patients suffering from depression:
“To be diagnosed as depressed is the holy grail of illness for many. The ultimate passport to self-obsession. Get a grip, people”.
Public understanding of mental health clearly has a long way to go.
The focal point of Mental Awareness week 2015 was Mindfulness, a term we come across a lot in the media. Although not many members of the public or mental-health patients for that matter know what it exactly refers to.
Mindfulness is an exercise which tries to focus the mind on the present moment rather on what happened earlier or what will happen later, consequently reducing levels of anxiety while making the patient less prone to depressive thoughts.
The exercise could be practiced while on the move or still through techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga.
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is recommended as a treatment by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for the prevention of relapse in recurrent depression.
Mindfulness, works for people with mental ill-health as well as those who want to improve their mental health and wellbeing and reduce stress.
“Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.”
Robin S. Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.