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Scientific Basis And How To Help Mental Illness

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Everyone is different, that is what makes us human. The most common mental diseases are not the egregious abnormalities in the mind, but instead results of systems that are in everyone’s mind working differently. How can we help the mentally ill, what causes these differences, how can we fix and prevent these differences, why we should fix these differences and if we should even solve these differences that make us human? Mental illness in all forms can be placed on a broad spectrum from mild to severe, as an example, depression versus schizophrenia. This massive variation even in the same disease makes it very hard to define what a mental illness is. However variable these mental illnesses may be, scientific discovery has made it far easier to understand.

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The National Institutes of Health states in World Psychiatry, “Both public and self-stigma may be understood in terms of three components: stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. Social psychologists view stereotypes as especially efficient, social knowledge structures that are learned by most members of a social group. ” they go on to append, “Stereotypes are considered “social” because they represent collectively agreed upon notions of groups of persons. ” This ‘public stigma’ and ‘self stigma’ have shown that, “The available research indicates that. . . the stigma of mental illness may be less severe than in Western cultures. Fabrega (who World Psychiatry references for information) suggests that the lack of differentiation between psychiatric and non-psychiatric illness in the three great non-Western medical traditions is an important factor. ” This shows clearly that the understanding of how mentally ill differ from the common population is a large factor in how a stigma or attitude towards a people is formed. Although stigma may worsen a state of being for mentally ill, preventing the illness in the first place is desirable. E. Armstrong identifies actions take to prevent illness in, Mental Health Issues in Primary Care. For example, he explains how throughout the 1980’s the major focus of prevention was for disease, When health visiting started. . . the major concern was with reducing the appalling infant mortality due to squalor, lack of hygiene and ignorance amongst parents. In later years the focus shifted to child development and the early detection of problems such as hearing impairment which if untreated may lead to language delay and learning difficulties. Although prevention can help, mental illness is far too complicated to base reduced mental illness on any one thing, therefore although the argument for more prevention would be heavily strengthened by studies showing just that, such a complicated topic is near impossible to study with any degree of accuracy.

Although preventing future cases of mental disease is inherently desirable if done correctly, it is folly to think that a society could completely eliminate every preventable disease. Even if humanity had the cure to every disease known to earth, there still would be the dilemma of what a mental illness even is. Although many people go to see the doctor or psychiatrist when there is something wrong with them, many people do not; this is a problem. When one talks about the mind you are talking about the person. Should the people that do not get help be forced to get help? How invasive should surveillance be, to further the mental aptitude of a population? Is it worth giving up rights of privacy so that everyone has better health overall? All of these questions posed are very complicated and have no one answer. To help diagnose and force people to seek help, should we give up some privacy? If done right and uncorrupt, would spying be justified if it could save innocent lives? Unfortunately, corruption is human nature and even now without ‘big brother’ always watching, paranoia amongst the mentally ill is common, in The American Journal of Public Health, the authors have some samples, one of them named John, “. . . was convinced that people were spying on him and that they could hear what he was thinking. John lost his drive to participate in his usual work and family activities and retreated to his home, ” so even without actual spying, paranoid individuals lose their drive to do anything productive to society. As we cannot spy on people to help them, whether the inability comes from a moral standpoint or a logical standpoint, how can a society decide what is a mental illness or not. As an example, homosexuality was once widely accepted as to be seen as a mental disease. According to, The BMJ, the therapies performed to ‘treat’ homosexuality during the 1960’s were as follows, “electric shock aversion therapy, ” where, “electrodes were attached to the wrist or lower leg and shocks were administered while the patient watched photographs of men and women in various stages of undress. ” and further, “Oestrogen treatment to reduce libido. . . psychoanalysis. . . and religious counselling. ” Electroshock today is commonly looked down upon, it has been scrutinized for being scaring and not being effective. This is a large problem with diagnosing and treating mental illness; what if we are wrong?

In spite of all that we have done to further medicine and better mental health, what gives someone the right to help someone else? What if they do not want to be helped? Or in the case above, the ‘help’ is, in fact, hurting the person more and not doing any help. Or what if the ‘help, ’ whether genuinely helpful or not, costs an exorbitant amount of money. Should the person be forced to ‘pay up’ for the greater good for a nation or humanity as a whole? “The uninsured are a heterogeneous risk group; some of them are individuals with a chronic illness who do not have a labor force connection and cannot purchase individual insurance, or at least insurance that covers their condition. ” this could also happen in mental health if it was mandatory like it is mandatory to have health care in the United States. Secondly, to what extent should mental illness be treated? Although we all like to think of ourselves as normal, there is no ‘normal person’ because of these variations from person to person, what makes someone with depression no longer depressed? When they are not ever sad ever again? That is not normal, but neither is being sad all the time.

Overall there just is not one clear answer to the question of the best way to treat an extremely flexible variable. Whether defining, diagnosing, or treating, mental health is a very complicated subject. To answer any question asking, how to help solve the mental health issue in modern time? There is only one answer. Understanding is the answer, human nature is not perfect but if we can help ourselves understand it better then that is the first step in diagnosing and treating, no matter what topic, whether mental health-related or not. To invade privacy or think that nobody will be human and make a mistake in raising a child, or that we could ever possibly find the cure to every mental illness is just plain absurd.

15 July 2020

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