Mental health literacy refers to the knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders and their remedies. Even with the increased awareness on mental illnesses in recent times, I have found people to hold stigmatizing beliefs towards mental illness. This essay will be a systematic reflection on my opinions beliefs and learning about mental health and its disorders.
Reporting- Whenever I made a mention of the fact that I would like to pursue a career in Mental Health and Psychiatry, I never received any positive response. Although prior to the baccalaureate course I did not have much of an exposure regarding mental health, I had the basic understanding that mental health encompasses our psychological, social and emotional wellbeing, thereby affecting how we feel, act and think. As a healthcare professional I have identified the fact that mental health problems affect one out of every five people, during their lifetime and directly result in an alteration of their behaviours, thinking patterns, and functioning (Clement et al., 2015). I realized that mental health cannot be merely defined as absence of any illness, but as a complete state of wellbeing that allows every individual to realize self potential. My personal mental wellbeing is triggered by my coping skills that help me deal with the normal stresses of life and work in a fruitful manner, thus making an essential contribution to my community.
Responding- With the determination to work as a mental health professional, I tried to spend the majority of time assisting experienced registered nurses, who had worked on mental health wards, attending people suffering from anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, and panic attacks. This was my first experience of directly observing the patients and initially it was extremely difficult to see their sufferings. I became really disturbed to see the pain and distress that they have to endure, due to the stigmatizing attitudes of the entire society. Every patient had a separate story to discuss and it was quite evident that they were not receiving adequate support to recover. While assisting the senior nurses I also found that cultural context plays an important role in the development of values and attitudes regarding mental health such as, Pacific islanders often considered mental disorders the direct result of family conflict (Choudhry, Mani, Ming & Khan, 2016). Conversely interaction with the Jewish client made me aware that they perceive mental illness as an opportunity for receiving divine messages, improving their souls, and as a way of forgiveness.
Relating- I had the opportunity to interact with a distant relative who has suffered from bipolar disorder since the age of seventeen. Although her family members and friends could identify that she was facing difficulty in her thoughts and behaviour, none of them took the initiative of referring her to a GP, for diagnosis of the condition. This elaborated on the lack of awareness regarding mental illness among the public. Moreover, the way mental disorders are reported and portrayed in the media are incredibly powerful in influencing and educating the public. While portraying psychotherapy and mental illness, the media often tends to get it wrong (Corrigan, Powell & Michaels, 2013). My culture and ethnicity has many historical myths and misconceptions regarding mental illnesses, most people do not have enough alertness to confidently discuss about it (Gibbons, Thorsteinsson & Loi, 2015). The ethnicity allows me to provide assistance to all such people, to make them feel confident in speaking out answers to their suffering. Offering assistance and support and discussing about the issues they face, help a great deal in reducing security of the diseases (Chronister, Chou & Liao, 2013). Since people suffering from mental health illnesses certain spiritual needs as well, my culture also promotes offering them spiritual guidance, to reduce their anguish.
Reasoning- The learning models in the unit tutorials and lectures are completely in alignment my with my personal values, and beliefs, since they illustrate the severe bigotry adopted by the society towards the mentally ill patients, and also suggest ways by which nursing professionals can help in recovery. The lecturers helped me gain a deeper understanding that recovery from mental illness is not just accomplishment of complete cure from the disease. This is accomplished by realising the complete potential and developing a sense of self-esteem and worth. The lectures made me upset as I gained knowledge on the distress that mentally ill face due to lack of any social support and their desperate want for help from her family members and peers. Accounts from ‘lived experiences’ and the lectures provide enough evidence to suggest that there exists a range of myth and stigma around mental illness that make the community members adopt hurtful attitudes towards the patient, and creates difficulties for the latter to reach out for help (Bockting, Miner, Swinburne Romine, Hamilton & Coleman, 2013).
Reconstructing- With the aim of assisting the patients to recover from mental illness I will instil in them a sense of hope and empowerment that will help them grow the desire of living a focused and meaningful life. Empowering them will also help them to exert their decisions in all situations and facilitate gaining of control over on their lives, thereby increasing their capacity to act on different issues (Drake & Whitley, 2014). I will also try to remain courteous and show respect towards their cultural values, beliefs, and traditions, thus demonstrating a willingness to address their concerns. Ensuring presence of a balance between support for these individuals and my duty of care would also be imperative (Slade et al., 2014). I also wish to take into account my strength of being an active listener, in order to learn from their experiences. I would act upon my communication skills to introduce a feeling hope in them. This will also be achieved by acknowledging their potential and continuously obtaining feedback. Therefore, recovery from mental illness refers to the entire journey that a person takes, in order to reduce his/her sufferings. Engaging in an interaction with people suffering from mental illness and gaining an awareness of the cultural stereotypes also help in shaping personal values and attitudes on mental disorders. Owing to the lack of information regarding the remedies, and causes of mental illness, most people feel intimidated. Hence, all efforts must be taken to ensure that the people with mental illness gain a control over their lives and experience an enhanced quality of life.
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Choudhry, F. R., Mani, V., Ming, L. C., & Khan, T. M. (2016). Beliefs and perception about mental health issues: A meta-synthesis. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 2807. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S111543
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