Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affects a person’s mood, thinking and behavior. Some of the more common examples of mental illnesses include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.
Symptoms of mental illness can vary depending on the type of disorder it is and other contributing factors, but they may generally include :
- Feeling sad or down.
- Confused thinking or inability to concentrate.
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt.
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows.
- Withdrawal from friends and activities.
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping.
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations.
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress.
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people.
- Problems with alcohol or drug use.
- Major changes in eating habits.
- Sex drive changes.
- Excessive anger, hostility or violence.
- Suicidal thinking.
Mental Disorders Higher in Conflict Affected Areas
According to a news report published by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the World Health Organisation (WHO) says it will be addressing emergencies and mental disorders in some countries. Nigeria and several other countries including Bangladesh, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, South Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which have greatly been affected by conflict in recent times.
Statistics in the report showed that “there are more people living with mental disorders in areas affected by conflict.” At least one person in five is living with some form of mental disorder, from mild depression or anxiety to psychosis.
In North Eastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram insurgency, now in its 10th year, had led to the death of tens of thousands and the displacement of millions. The reports say that women and children survivors rescued from Boko Haram are returning to their homes with signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress and other forms of mental issues.
WHO said: “These people desperately need to be able to obtain treatment and care.” UN estimates suggest that in 2019, nearly 132 million people in 42 countries around the world will need humanitarian assistance resulting from conflict or disaster.
There are nearly 69 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced by violence and conflict, the highest number since World War II, according to the organization. It noted that all countries had an obligation to invest in mental health, particularly in conflict-affected populations where the rate of mental health conditions was more than double that of the general population.
Promoting Your Mental Health
There’s no sure way to completely prevent mental illness since some of the risk factors like conflicts can be beyond your control. However, taking precautions on healthy living tips can go a long way in keeping you safe from many forms of mental illnesses.
If you already have a mental illness, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and to boost low self-esteem may help keep your symptoms under control. According to mayoclinic, these 4 things can help:
1. Pay attention to warning signs – Work with your doctor or therapist to learn what might trigger your symptoms. Make a plan so that you know what to do if symptoms return and contact your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes in symptoms or how you feel. Also involve family members or friends to watch for warning signs.
2. Get routine medical care – Don’t neglect checkups or skip visits to your primary care provider, especially if you aren’t feeling well. You may have a new health problem that needs to be treated, or you may be experiencing side effects of medication.
3. Get help when you need it – Mental health conditions can be harder to treat if you wait until symptoms get bad. Long-term maintenance treatment also may help prevent a relapse of symptoms.
4. Take good care of yourself – Sufficient sleep, healthy eating and regular physical activity are important. Try to maintain a regular schedule. Talk to your primary care provider if you have trouble sleeping or if you have questions about diet and physical activity.