Mental health illness has become a keyword in our conversations. While you might have discussed the issue in great detail on many forums; with friends, family, and the online fraternity, it is important to delve into the root of the issue and find out WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH exactly? Can you or a loved one get help if you feel something is not right? And most importantly, how can it be treated? To answer some of these questions, we sat down with a Ciinical Psychologist and this is what she has to tell us.
It basically refers to our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It’s all about how we think, feel and behave, that’s what mental health is. When somebody develops a mental health problem, there is some distress and destruction in their daily functioning, that’s when they have developed some kind of mental health problem.
Are there any signs and symptoms of mental health disorder that we should look out for in ourselves or a loved one?
There really are no five signs that one would say, but it depends on what the person’s problem is and there is a wide range of mental health illness a person can develop, so it is very difficult to put it down to top five signs. But to me, the most significant one is when the person is not being himself like they used to be, and what they are experiencing now. You see some kind of change or drift in their personality or their behavior over a significant period of time or another sign could be the fact that there would be some kind of distress, either they are causing to others or to themselves.
What are the top 5 mental health problems people are facing in Pakistan?
The situation in Pakistan like all over the world is not glorious but the good part is that the people are identifying it as a problem and they are seeking help for it as awareness increases. But we still have a long way to go. The top 5 mental conditions in Pakistan definitely include anxiety, there are a lot of factors that stem from an already existing issue or new issues that can cause anxiety. There are a lot of reported cases of depression too, that people are experiencing over here because of the difficulty to adjust to work-related, personal issues, and life-related issues.
Another factor leading to these issues is bullying both physical, emotional, psychological, and cyber-bullying. Plus there are also marital counseling issues, these are the major ones. There are also abuse and trauma cases that lead to the development of mental health illness.
Do we always need medication to treat mental health issues?
If you suspect mental health illness, the first person you should go to is the Clinical Psychologist. Let that professional evaluate your issue, and determine the intensity of the issue, and if there is a need to, then the psychologist will refer you to a psychiatrist for medication. If there is no need to do that, then the psychologist will deal with it in his or her way.
There are clinical psychologists and psychiatrists practicing in hospitals. You will find them in hospitals, in semi hospital settings, or clinical settings. Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists are regarded as the key members of the healthcare team and you can easily find them in almost all health settings.
No, we don’t always need medication to treat medical health issues. Because it depends entirely on the intensity and the type of mental health illness concern that the person is experiencing. Most of the time, mental health concerns can be treated without taking any medication but sometimes it is crucial to take medication to support the therapeutic process.
Is there a questionnaire we can fill up, or a test we can perform to check our level of mental stability, soundness?
Well, this is an interesting one! Actually, there are various pop quizzes all over the internet, but I will not advise them because
- They are not accurate
- Because they are not accurate, they can be misleading to people.
In short, one would actually have to visit a psychologist to get these kinds of test done because they are authorized to do internationally recognized tests and screening.
Are mental health illnesses hereditary?
They can be, but not always. We have research-based evidence indicating that some of the mental health illness can be hereditary while some are not. You should definitely get yourself checked if there is someone in the family suffering from mental health issues. There are two reasons for this, the first one is mental health illness can be hereditary. The other reason could be a behavioral pattern that we may have consciously or unconsciously picked up. It may be something learned without realizing. Genes and stressful environment both can be the reason why a person is suffering from mental health issues.
Saba Zain is a Clinical Psychologist practicing in Karachi, Pakistan. If you feel you or a loved ones needs mental health evaluation, please visit your doctor or make an appointment with a Clinical Psychologist for further diagnosis.