Introduction to Mental Health

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Experts have defined Mental Health as cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. They have tagged it to how people think, feel, and behave. People sometimes use the term “mental health” to mean the absence of a mental disorder. Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health.

Mental  health challenges and disorders are often linked to social challenges problems and the wider community. Research shows there are links between stronger social relationships and improved wellbeing and quality of life for   adults with mental health problems.

However, there  is little   evidence for effective mental health treatments that promote social engagement, particularly in low-income countries where mental health services have limited resources and infrastructure is weak.        

Mental health difficulties arise when a problem, life event or situation, disrupts the way we think and feel. This can either be temporary – for example, following bereavement – or be more enduring. Mental health issues can come about because someone is suffering stress, constant worrying, deep-seated or chronic unhappiness, loneliness, lack of self-esteem, an inability or lack of resilience in dealing confidently with adverse life events or circumstances, or an inability to build and maintain healthy relationships.

The term mental illness is generally used to describe the medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. The changes need to be bad enough to affect how the person operates or to cause distress to them or to other people.

‘Mental health problem’ is often used to describe conditions seen as less serious and as distinct from severe and enduring mental illness. Mental health problems (e.g. mild depression or mild anxiety) are more common, are usually less severe and of a shorter duration than mental illnesses but may develop into a mental illness.

Reporting mental illness and mental health issues present many challenges for journalists such as limited time to research complex issues, difficulties in finding people with mental health issues or their families who are willing to be interviewed, or trying to distill intricate information into the constraints of a news story by deadline.

It is the reason why this course has been prepared for reporters as it provides background information about the subject and gives direction on research areas.