The history of mental health is a rocky one, filled with atrocities and small breakthroughs which have led to modern day perceptions and treatments for mentally ill patients. Beginning in Europe in the 1600s, mental ill and unstable individuals were often stone, beat and abused in public. By the 1800s in both Europe and America, government and individuals were providing homes and poorhouses for the mentally unstable, however these sanctuaries were soon overflowing and the asylum era begun in the 1840s. At this point, mental illnesses were still believed to be a disease of the brain, something that was curable with lobotomy, surgeries and other highly invasive and often times dangerous procedures. In the early 1900s, thinking shifted to a more Darwinian viewpoint, one that sourced mental illness from a genetic or biological base and therefore treatments shifted from invasive to preemptive. Humane care for the mentally ill and preventive treatments for people who show signs of depression or other mental issues and more are the basis of today’s modern approach to treating the mentally ill.
The National Institute of Mental health estimated that there are 13 million American adults who suffer from a mental illness each year and many people are undiagnosed and without care or support. People suffering from mental illnesses often struggle to take care of themselves physically as well as emotionally, making every day living a challenge. Additionally, mental illness can lead to suicide, which is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. The seriousness of seeking treatment for mental health illnesses and disorders cannot be overstated. Since preventative treatments such as therapy, counseling or psychiatric help are often the best chance a person has for a recovery from mental illness, family members, friends, educators and more should know the signs of mental illnesses including:
- Feeling extreme highs and lows
- Substance abuse
- Inability to cope with problems
- Outbursts of anger
- Intense fears or worries
- Strained relationships
- Insomnia (inability to sleep)
Symptoms will differ based on a person’s age and social situation.
The terms mental illness and mental disorder are umbrella terms for a wide range of specific diseases which all must be diagnosed and treated individually. Here is a list of different mental health illnesses and resources for people suffering from mental illness as well as their family and friends:
Anxiety & Women’s Specific
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Borderline Personality Disorder
Cancer- Living with Cancer
Child Mental Health
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Mild Cognitive Impairment
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Sexual Dysfunction – Men
Sexual Dysfunction – Women
Teen Mental Health
Each and every mental illness case is a unique in its symptoms, effects and therefore, its treatment. There are a wide range of both public and private treatment options available to people suffering from mental illness. Most cases begin with an initial assessment which is conducted by a mental health professional. Once the patient is diagnosed, the proper form of treatment can be administered. Treatments include:
- Psychiatry – Most all mentally ill patients will work with a psychiatrist, a highly qualified mental health professional, to work through the cause of their disorder and learn healthy ways to live with or treat their condition.
- Support groups – Support groups are popular for conditions including substance abuse, bereavement and more. These groups give patients a chance to contact with people suffering from the same illness so that everyone can cope and grow together.
- Treatment with medications – Common medications prescribed for different mental illnesses include antidepressant medications, antipsychotic medication, mood stabilizing medication and more.
- Community support – Community programs offer case managers, crisis teams and support teams to help patients in their home if they do not have family or friends to check in on them or if they do not have the finances available to afford private care.
- Hospitalization – In the worst of cases, a patient may be hospitalized to protect themselves from harm during a short-term, intensive care treatment.
- Involuntary Treatment – A psychiatrist can recommend a patient be hospitalized for care.
- Electroconvulsive therapy – An electrical current is passed through a patient’s brain. This treatment is typically used as a last resort for handling deep and debilitating depression.
If a person is suspected of having a mental illness, the first person to contact should be a doctor or community mental health service. In almost all cases, treatment can occur while a patient is still an active part of the community. Only in situations where the patient is considered dangerous to himself/herself or others will he/she be hospitalized. With a strong support team, a mental health professional, and with dedication and patience, many people suffering from treatable mental illnesses recover with time.