Monday, April 6, 2009

Mental Health Disorders

Mental Health Disorders - Causes of Mental Health Disorders

It is amazing how a lump of gray matter could manipulate all the systems in our body in the most systematic way possible with all the intricacies and complex functioning. But what's queer about this stuff (the organ we call brain) is that it could malfunction in a way that it could result to single or multiple representations of mental health problems all in an individual.

Clinical research and laboratory observations consistently arrive at a conclusion that mental health disorders are products of the accumulation and interaction of several contributing factors. It would have been easier to identify each disorder if there is only one cause to all meal health disorders but that simply isn't the truth. In reality, all mental disorders could root from several causes such as an environment that is conducive to the development of a mental disorder or individual genetic make-up that programs the brain (or the faulty components of the brain) to develop into something non-normal.

Saying that it's all about the pathological make-up of the brain that causes the mental health disorders is simplistic, to say the least. Looking at the strange development of these disorders would reveal that there are actually at least 3 contributing factors that may be seen as potential causes, all of which have varying degrees. This means that a particular culprit could be more dominant than the other.

First with the physical causes. This bracket of causes is biological in nature. Each individual has a distinct and unique biological make-up that dictates the direction of his health, may it be physical or mental. Some people are born with inherent tendency to develop a specific mental disorder in comparison with other people while others are less prone to risks. This cause also covers the genetic make-up of an individual, the biological make-up and the events in life that affects the physical body (such as a trauma on the head or substance abuse).

Second are the environmental or social causes. Nature VS Nurture has been a great debate in the scientific community but research confirms that a person experience a spilt-half of both. Nature of course are the physical attributes of an individual while Nurture reflects more on the social structures and physical, emotional and mental environments to which an individual was exposed to. This factor tells us more on how an individual grew up, the interaction of influences that affected all facets of his growth and the mechanisms he used to cope with a specific environment.

It is observable that some mental disorders are caused primarily by the consequences of experience brought about by the environment. For example, people (especially children) living in a stressful, chaotic and unstable environment are more likely to develop mental illnesses than those individuals living in peaceful environment. This consequence is due to the fact that there are certain social and environmental components that may become risk factors to the development of mental health problems.

Third is the psychological factor. This particular factor tells us more on the psychological state of a person, his coping mechanisms to certain life events that could otherwise end up with psychological disorders, his perception on his own self and his environment and thought patterns that affect his mental health. For example, someone who has gone beyond the limit of his stress coping capacity is likely to break down mentally as a result of the psyche's automatic "lock down" to protect itself.

For the majority of people lacking mental health, it is often the case of triggering the mental health to break down through series factors that have eventually contributed to the cause of mental health disorder.
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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mental Health Courts: Separate Justice System

Patients of mental health require special attention and treatments and on normal circumstances, the prison cell will not give the proper, not even the sufficient treatment. It has been observed that those people who are suffering from certain mental disorders become worse while they are in correctional facilities. They get intimidated by the other inmates, they get abused even and the worst part is, they do not get the right treatment for their disorders. There is simply no possible way for them to get treated inside such facilities. Therefore, their psychological disorders become aggravated.

In the past recent years, it has been observed that offenders with mental illnesses are fastly falling into the jurisdiction of criminal justice system. Added to this are the shocking percentages of people with mental illnesses that are mixed into normal groups of people in correctional facilities. This is due to the lack of mental health facilities or their feeling of intimidation and reluctance to avail the services of such facilities which make them unable to connect to the community support systems that they are entitled to. In the end, people with mental disorders find themselves committing both minor and severe crimes, thus incarceration without receiving the services they require. This brought on the need for a judicial system that would specifically advance the services needed by criminal offenders with mental disorders.

Because of the need to improve the criminal justice system in the country, government officials, policy makers, the Council of State Governments and mental health professionals convened to come up with a solution that will answer the specific needs of criminal offenders with psychological disorders.

Mental health courts are the links between mental health and criminal law. This body combined the specialties of almost all types of people working in both fields to come up with favorable programs that work for the advantage mentally ill offenders. These courts commission court personnel such as judges, prosecutors and attorneys who have expertise and sufficient knowledge on mental health. Up to date, there are about 27 courts around the United States that are promoting treatment methods that are supported by the courts in exchange for incarceration.

These courts are adhering to therapeutic methods for people with mental health needs and they work on two approaches. One is to help prevent the rate of mental illnesses from rising to lessen the frequency of criminal offenses in support of public protection and two, distinguish that the need for criminal sanctions is highly unnecessary when it is proven that the cause of the criminal act is a psychological disorder.

With these approaches in mind, there are two goals enveloping this type of courts, namely: a) to lessen the exacerbation of criminal behaviors due to mental health illnesses magnified by insufficient number of services extended to people who need them and b) to find the alternative solution to imprisonment that would restrain the recurrence of the criminal act while providing treatment options for the offenders.

These courts believe that their services could augment the provisions of mental health facilities and may also extend the services of the criminal justice system. This way, such courts are able to give the alternative solutions that help lessen the number of offenses of individuals who are not mentally well.

It cannot be denied though that this program is still at its infancy period- having too little resource and having systems that are still developing. In fact, it was noted on the research conducted by the Bazelon Center Review that each court system has no specific model to which these courts could follow their structures. Also, they are allowed to create their own systems, rules and procedures that will work for the best interests of the facilities.

However, it cannot be discounted that mental health courts are playing the crucial role of separating offenders with mental health needs from normal people to whom criminal justice system applies well.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

World Mental Health Day 2008

Celebrated during the 10th of October, mental health day is an international educational campaign which aims to extend knowledge on mental health to unaware people. For the first time in 1992, it was observed by the World Federation for Mental Health as an annual activity.

Each celebration of this global event holds a theme that aims to focus the concerns of the World Federation for Mental Health on specific problems.

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For this year's theme, the organizers chose to make mental health issues a global priority, after all mental health is an international concern. It is known for a fact that not only Americans, Canadians or other highly industrialized citizens experience the problems caused by mental health. Mental disorders do not choose their victims. They occur in all cultures, in all ages and on both sexes.

The sad thing though is that there is too little attention being given in helping people with mental health. We, Americans, are lucky because our government, our health authorities and many other organizations are tying up to mobilize the causes for assisting people with mental health. However, even our current efforts are not enough. In many countries though, in fact in almost all countries in the world, mental health is being given too little concern. This is aggravated by lack of funds, by lack of facilities and by lack of nearly all the resources required to advance the causes associated with mental health.

For this year, the World Federation for Mental Health made it a point to seek everyone's concern in battling mental health. This is done through strengthening services and the participation of the citizens.

Also, WMHDAY 2008 will highlight the present needs of people with mental health and the developments of present methodologies, treatment options and management of mental health. Advocacy is the key and this year's aim is to integrate the sense of advocacy to all people so that change could be feasible. WMHDAY 2008 also advocates that solving mental health issues could also be facilitated by feeding the right information to all kinds of people by providing reliable resources.

Its time for the world to listen. Through this year's team, we could eliminate the stigma and discrimination people with mental disorders feel. Through right public information, people who don’t suffer with such disorders would understand their suffering counterparts and could help them improve their lives. And through the supply of right information for the unaware public, they could share their lives to those people with mental health disorders.

Enough for the clucking of tongues after a miserable event happened caused by, say, a mentally ill individual. Enough with the daily pains people with mental disorders experience because the public does not have sufficient knowledge on the nature of their disorders. Enough with the unjust treatment to these distressed individuals. They need help, not discrimination. Support not stigma.

We always hear it in the news. A father killed his family and killed himself after. A teenage killed his peers and turned the gun against him and killed himself afterwards. A mother killed her children and got sent to a mental institution. Why do we always have to wait for something to happen before we take action?

Why don’t we listen to the painful sufferings of the mentally ill individuals now and provide them the proper services they need and deserve? World Mental Health Day 2008 sponsors subtly the belief that the world would be a better place if only we can understand and help people with psychological disorders.
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