Observing World Mental Health Day on October 10
In this time of worldwide pandemic and a focus on physical health, it’s easy to forget people who are suffering from what’s often a silent, invisible illness. Millions of people around the world suffer from mental health disorders. These include anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. Unfortunately, they are often ignored or placed last on the list in discussions of health.
To address the lack of attention mental illness gets, the World Health Organization (WHO) established World Mental Health Day in 1992. This was an important moment in the history of mental health news. Since then, it has been an annual day of recognition for those people who struggle in the shadows. The day puts the importance of mental health awareness front and center.
October 10th: World Mental Health Day
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to seize headlines across the world, we might overlook an important day in mental health news. On October 10th, many countries and organizations focus on mental health awareness.
Why Mental Health News Matters
The focus on mental health is more important than ever. We’ve already seen the tremendous impact the pandemic has had on people’s jobs, financial stability, and emotional well-being.
People with mental health issues are at special risk under these circumstances. Many are having difficulty getting the therapy and medications as the resources to serve them are overwhelmed by the demands for help. The goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is to increase WHO’s member countries’ investment in mental health.
Recognizing the Importance of Mental Health Awareness
Mental illness can have devastating effects if left untreated. In some countries, most people get no treatment for their disorders. They also struggle with discrimination, harsh treatment, and abuse of their civil rights.
The coronavirus pandemic has made the situation worse. Mental health news reports that hospitals and treatment facilities cannot treat these people because governments have diverted all health-related resources to COVID-19. The pandemic has left care homes and psychiatric institutions unattended or understaffed. In light of this, WHO is making an investment in mental health a cornerstone of this year’s World Mental Health Day.
“It is nearly 30 years since the first World Mental Health Day was launched by the World Federation for Mental Health,” said Dr. Ingrid Daniels, President of the World Federation for Mental Health. “During that time, we have seen an increasing openness to talk about mental health in many countries of the world. But now we must turn words into actions.”
Mental Health Issues Affect Us All
We can’t overstate the importance of mental health awareness. According to WHO, “Mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. Close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide.”
Understanding Mental Health
Many people know very little about mental illness. Countless individuals, even some who suffer from mental health disorders, operate under misconceptions about mental illness. This makes the need for awareness even more serious.
Mental illness is widespread. It’s possible that you know someone who’s dealing with a mental health issue. Most of them lead productive, normal lives despite their illness. But, they still suffer from the effects of their illnesses and should seek support as they work through their lives.
The good news? Treatment for mental illness works. People who get counseling, medication, holistic treatments, or a combination of therapies can cope with their illness.
Facts About Mental Illness
- Fewer than half of adults with mental illness get treatment for it.
- Most people with a mental illness are nonviolent. Fewer than 5% of violent acts are committed by mentally ill people.
- One in 10 young people has had an episode of major depression.
- Suicide causes over 800,000 deaths worldwide. More than 40,000 of those are in the US.
- An estimated 70 to 90% of people who get treatment are able to live successful lives with a mental illness.
These numbers point to the enormous need for local, national, and international investment in mental health resources. Stressing the importance of mental health awareness is a key function of World Mental Health Day.
What Is the Link Between Mental Health and Substance Use?
Mental health and addiction often occur together. Over 50% of people in the US who have a substance use disorder also have a mental health diagnosis. Therapists call this a “dual diagnosis”.
Are people with mental illness more likely to use drugs? Does drug use cause mental illness? Researchers have studied the link between addiction and mental illness for decades. When we discuss the importance of mental health awareness, we must include an awareness of its role in addiction.
Many addicts experience depression, anxiety, panic disorders, paranoia, psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Addiction often goes hand-in-hand with antisocial disorders. There are several facts that may explain the intersection between mental illness and addiction.
Self-Medicating With Drugs and Alcohol
Unfortunately, many people don’t get the treatment they need for their mental health issues. As a result, they may start self-medicating with prescription drugs and street drugs. People with mood disorders may find their moods regulate when they use alcohol or sedatives.
It’s important to know that people use drugs to cope with painful situations. They may use them to feel pleasure or to reduce their pain symptoms. Some may use these drugs to manage medical problems, to help them socialize, or to escape the misery of their environment. These are all conditions that make drug use seem like a logical choice. Unfortunately, using drugs or alcohol is a dangerous coping mechanism that can lead to addiction.
Drug Use Can Cause Mental Illness
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Chronic use of some drugs can lead to both short- and long-term changes in the brain, which can lead to mental health issues including paranoia, depression, anxiety, aggression, hallucinations, and other problems.”
For instance, people who use crystal meth can experience changes to their brain shape and function. Over time, they may experience neurological disorders like strokes and Parkinson’s. Another example is the long-term use of marijuana, which can lead to symptoms of psychosis. Sometimes, these symptoms subside or disappear once the addict stops using drugs. For some people, symptoms of mental illness persist even when they end drug use.
The Effects of Drug Use Can Mimic the Symptoms of Mental Illness
Often, people who use drugs or alcohol exhibit behavior that looks like mental illness. They may hallucinate, hear voices or act irrationally.
Withdrawal from Drugs Can Cause Mental Health Problems
Many individuals fear going to treatment because they’re afraid of the withdrawal symptoms from drugs. Withdrawing cold turkey from drugs, alcohol and even cigarettes can lead to serious mood disorders including depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Abrupt withdrawal can also cause hallucinations and psychotic episodes.
These symptoms usually stop once the addict completes withdrawal and treatment. A rehab center can manage the symptoms by using medically supervised detox that minimizes the effects of withdrawal. Addicts don’t need to fear withdrawal if they get treatment at a facility that offers medical detox.
Is Addiction a Mental Illness?
Classifying addiction as a mental illness was a turning point in mental health news. Today, most counselors and addiction therapists recognize dual diagnoses. It’s important to separate the drug or alcohol use from other underlying illnesses when the addict goes into treatment.
It’s often hard to separate drug-related symptoms from the symptoms of a mental disorder. To make this distinction clear, therapists should assess addicts after they have been abstinent for some time.
Finding the Help and Support You Need
It’s important for individuals who suffer from addiction and mental illness to know they can get the treatment they need. Certain therapies are proven to work for people with mental illness and addiction. Look for a treatment facility that provides these therapies.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This evidence-based therapy has a high rate of success in treating addiction and mental disorders. CBT focuses on changing your thinking to change your behavior. It is short-term, practical and highly effective.
- Integrative group therapy (IGT): Get peer support from fellow addicts while managing the symptoms of a mental disorder.
- Twelve-step programs: Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have helped many addicts stay sober. They are an important adjunct to therapy.
- Holistic therapy: Meditation, yoga, art therapy and exercise therapy can help former addicts maintain a mindful approach to recovery.
Outpatient treatment is an excellent option for people who can’t leave their jobs or families behind. Intensive outpatient therapy can help people with co-occurring disorders get treatment while they continue working or going to school.
Partial hospitalizations programs are another option. Research has found that partial hospitalization programs are especially helpful to people with addiction and severe mental illness. Look for these therapies when you seek out an inpatient facility.
This is the best way to treat a dual diagnosis. An extended stay in a safe, controlled environment allows health care professionals to supervise and guide individuals in recovery. This makes it easier to separate drug-related behavior from substance use.
A residential setting gives clients the long-term care they need to treat both conditions. Inpatient care is ideal for anyone suffering from mental illness and addiction.
Get the Help You Need at Silver Linings
If you’re ready to get the treatment you need, discover the compassionate care we offer at Silver Linings Recovery Center. Our comprehensive treatment facility offers dual diagnosis treatment in a safe, supportive setting. Call us today.