Mental illness or mental disorder is a condition that affects emotional, cognitive and social abilities of a person. It causes severe interruptions in thinking, feelings, moods as well as relating with others. According to National Alliance on Mental Illness – NAMI (2008), mental illness include; “schizophrenia, major depression, , bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder” (para. 2). About 1 in every 17 Americans suffers from a severe mental disorder.
Basically mental illness is just like physical illness; the only difference is that instead of affecting a person’s body, mental illness affects ones brain which controls feelings and behavior (MHA, 2003). The causes for mental illness are not exactly known but some explanations such as genetic, environmental factors such as trauma and severe stress, imbalance of chemicals in the brain or a combination of these factors have been suggested. Similarly, there is no known cure for this disorder, but with suitable treatment and medication the disorder can be suppressed (MHA, 2003). Treatment can be done through drug therapy or through psychotherapeutic treatments such as behavior therapy (MERCK, 2007). However, the disorder cannot be prevented since it is caused by a combination of several factors.
Deinstitutionalization refers to the trend of moving mentally ill patients from state hospitals, closing them down and moving the patients to community based mental health care. This process was meant for the severely mentally ill patients. Though this process was intended to provide freedom of mind, dignity, determination and the least restrictive setting for the mentally ill it has become a predicament to the mental health. For Deinstitutionalization to achieve comfort and dignity for the severely mentally ill a substantial amount of money and increased efforts may be required. With professional personnel, financial incentives and proper supervisions, state and private institutions for the mentally ill can give quality services on a large scale. Martin (1995) says that it is only in institutions which are well staffed and with qualified personnel where the mentally ill can get motivation, go for workshops and attend chapels. In a community health setting patients will not have the discipline of keeping regular time for patients to go to bed and wake up. If allowed to be in the hands of the community health care, they will engage in activities such as smoking, roaming the streets and drug abuse. There is a possibility that those who are severely ill will isolate themselves from the community.
Physical health professionals can help patients suffering from mental illness to live in the community with the necessary support. The professionals may include occupational therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and mental health nurses. Since most patients with mental illness are likely to suffer from physical illness, medical professionals in physical and mental illnesses cannot be separated. For instance depressive disorders may be associated with physical illness like diabetes. Also most mentally ill patients might suffer from unnecessary disabilities (World Psychiatry, 2007). Apart from hospital inpatient, care for the mentally ill can be given through rehabilitation, social support and advice. State institutions are funded by government through federal government taxes on personal income, state and local governments. Mental health care is also gets funding from private foundations.
Although mental illness is widespread, only six percent of the American population who suffer from chronic disorder. Untreated cases of this illness can bear consequences such as suicide, abuse of substances, homelessness and wasted lives. Due to these untreated cases the economic costs may be very high. With suitable treatment and medication, most of the mental illnesses can decrease their impacts.
Martin, J (1995): Deinstitutionalization: What Will It Really Cost? Retrieved on 29th July 2008 from: http://www.mentalhealth.com/mag1/p51-sc02.html
MERCK (2007): Treatment of Mental Illness. Retrieved on 29th July 2008 from: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec07/ch098/ch098d.html
MHA (2003): What is Mental Illness? Retrieved on 29th July 2008 from: http://www.mhaofnyc.org/6aboutmi.html
NAMI (2008): About Mental Illness. Retrieved on 29th July 2008 from: http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Inform_Yourself/About_Mental_Illness/About_Mental_Illness.htm
World Psychiatry (2007): Physical illness in people with mental disorders. Retrieved on 29th July 2008 from: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1805725