The Challenges of Mentally Ill

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The Challenges Faced by the Recovered Psychiatric Patients in their Life Dr.Jiji.T.S. MSW, M.Phil, PhD Mental health and mentally ill are always serious social issues in any society. Though there is effective treatment modalities for psychiatric disorders in the current medicine the attitude and approach towards such victims have not attained much progress. Mentally ill people suffer from being prejudged and stigmatized within society. Friends, family, healthcare professionals, colleagues can al
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  The Challenges Faced by the Recovered Psychiatric Patients in their Life Dr.Jiji.T.S. MSW, M.Phil, PhD Mental health and mentally ill are always serious social issues in any society. Though there iseffective treatment modalities for psychiatric disorders in the current medicine the attitude and approachtowards such victims have not attained much progress. Mentally ill people suffer from being prejudgedand stigmatized within society.Friends,family, healthcare professionals, colleagues can all be sources of  discrimination. The results of this can be further mental and social problems: lower self-esteem, socialisolation, exclusion,depression, anxiety and so on. The unfortunate fate of a mentally ill is their rights anddesires are always misspelled or ignored without any reasonable background, it is simply ignored or givenleast or last priority. Usually in almost all families of such patients decisions for them are taken by thesuperior figure in the family whether it is beneficial for the patient or not. Right from the treatment aspectto major decisions regarding their marriage, child bearing or rearing and custodianship of properties andchildren and like everywhere they are subjected to a lot of discriminations.Developments in the fields of science and technology have revolutionized Human Life at materiallevel. But in actuality, this progress is only superficial: underneath modern men and women are living inconditions of great mental and emotional stress, even in developed and affluent countries. People from allover the world irrespective of culture and economic background suffer from mental illness and though anumber of researches are carried out worldwide but till date it has not been possible to resolve the problem.Even if a psychiatric patient regains his/her normality she or he has to face a range of challengesin their personal and social life. If there happens any minor mistakes in their part then others prefer tocolor it with their sickness and again they are branded as abnormal. Unlike any physical illness the psychiatric patients rarely get involved in the social mainstream even once they are cured of their symptoms. The family also tries to control them in many ways in order to maintain their normality whichthey think is possible only through certain restrictions. As a result the patient feels that they are notcapable of doing things independently or they have lost their vitality and vigour forever and the rest of thelife is with full of bondages and restrictions.The nature of the psychiatric illness is that we can only control the symptoms as it is caused due tocertain chemical imbalances like high concentration of dopamine in the brain. In order to regulate it proper medication for a certain period sometimes life long is required. As long as the medication continues thevictim is also under the supervision of their close relatives and is subjected to an array of rules and normsin their life.In the bygone years it was believed that mental illness is caused by the evil forces or by somewitchcraft. Such patients were locked up in chains in dark rooms and they had to end their life there itself.Some uncivilized people believed that if holes were made on their skulls then they can eliminate the evilspirit from the patients and many patients were died due to this practice in the past when there was littleknowledge and treatment were available to deal with this illness.The majority of people reported that the main problem with families was that the mental illnesswas not understood properly. Some mentally ill people are ostracized and distanced from their families,Dr.Jiji.T.S/30/03/20121  with uninformed relatives behaving as if the condition iscontagious. Loss of status within families is acommon complaint:inheritances deleted or reduced and responsibility taken away being the most frequentof these. Many people reported that 'general hurtful comments' such as 'mental'.Those who had jobs when diagnosed with mental illnesses were often pressurized intoresigning,were dismissed, or were maderedundanton grounds of being incapable to complete their jobs properly.Those who kept their jobs felt pressurized over sick leave: either the sufferer felt they could not take asufficient term of sick leave, or that they were pressurized into returning too soon. Many suffered bullyingand ridicule from colleagues, or were rejected of isolated. On the other hand, some mentally ill people whowere surveyed found that their employers did not take their mental illness seriously, and were therefore notgiven the consideration required. Mentally ill people who are searching for jobs often feel they cannotdisclose their condition to a prospective employer for fear of discrimination.This discrimination and prejudice against people with mental illnesses has a long term effect on thehealth of the sufferer, even beyond the duration of their illness. In aHealth Education Authoritysurvey of  psychiatric workers, it was found that 60% of the people they'd worked with now have long termemotional problems as a result of the discrimination they'd suffered. 99% of psychiatric workers believeddiscrimination to have long term detrimental effects of the health of a patient.Themediaintensifies the problems of discrimination against mentally ill people. Theanimalistic  portrayal of mentally ill people as violent and dangerous, aside from being, on the whole,false, can be theonly experience some people have of mental illness. This reinforces stereotypes and gives opportunity toconfirm the prior beliefs held through stereotypes as true – 'biased perception'. Two-thirds of mediareports portray mentally ill people as violent despite this being proven incorrect by theNational Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by people with Mental Illness.According to the child welfare authorities of some states, up to 1 in 5 of their cases involve a parent who suffers from a mental illness. This raises serious moral, emotional, ethical, and legal issues,none of which are simple. If a parent is struggling to keep custody of his or her children, and suffers froma severe mental illness, this can make an already-difficult situation even more wrenching.And while the stigma surrounding mental illness has diminished significantly in recent years, itstill persists. This means that, once a person is diagnosed with virtually any mental illness, many peopleautomatically assume that they are not fit to be parents, even if they know better than to publiclyacknowledge this assumption. This is very unfortunate, because many mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are often highly treatable. And while they presentchallenges for sufferers and their loved ones, they don’t automatically prevent a person from being aloving and competent parent. Possible move to reduce the intensity of discrimination against mentally ill people The government should review anti-discriminatory laws to include specific criteria for people withmental illnesses. This would provide a ' benchmark'of social boundaries, which would eventually bringabout a change in attitude towards people with mental illness. It would also prevent some of the moreoutright acts of discrimination going unnoticed. Legislation should be introduced to modify the way inDr.Jiji.T.S/30/03/20122  which the media portrays mentally ill people. Negative stereotypes and tabloid dramatizations should beremoved, and positive accounts should replace them. The media should encourage theinclusionrather thanexclusionof mentally ill people. This will, like government action, lead where the public will follow.The newDisability Rights Commissionlaunch a campaign to raise awareness of the problems of,and discrimination suffered by, mentally ill people: what their problems are, what the causes are and theimpact of these problems on someone's life. This should include more 'equal status contact', with mentallyill people in order to reduce the effect of the 'Minimal Group', and also to reduce the idea of a stereotypethrough 'attribute driven processing' i.e. focusing on the individual rather than their group. Other things we can do  All of us can help the way people think about mental illness.Start with our self. Be careful about our own choice of words. Use accurate and sensitive words whentalking about people with mental illness. Our positive attitude can affect everyone with whom we havecontact.Try to influence all the people in our life constructively. Whenever we hear people say things that showthey do not really understand mental illness, use the opportunity to share with them some of theinformation that we have.We have already changed the way we refer to women, people of color and people with physicaldisabilities. Why stop there?We need to motivate the psychiatric patients to adhere to prompt treatment and also to encourage them toregain their potential to become part of the social mainstream much better than before. Let them inhale thefree air of creativity and spontaneity amidst their disability adjusted life years (DALY).Dr.Jiji.T.S/30/03/20123
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