MENTAL HEALTH AND MENTAL ILLNESS
Mental health and mental illness are difficult to define precisely. People who can carry out their roles in society and whose behavior is appropriate and adaptive are viewed as healthy. Conversely, those who fail to fulfill roles and carry out responsibilities or whose behavior is inappropriate are viewed as ill. The culture of any society strongly influences its values and beliefs, and this in turn affects how that society defines health and illness. What one society may view as acceptable and appropriate, another society may see as maladaptive and inappropriate.
The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellness, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Visit thePoint http://thePoint.lww.com for NCLEX-style questions, journal articles, and more! This definition emphasizes health as a positive state of well-being. People in a state of emotional, physical, and social well-being fulfill life responsibilities, function effectively in daily life, and are satisfied with their interpersonal relation-ships and themselves.
No single universal definition of mental health exists. Generally, a person’s behavior can provide clues to his or her mental health. Because each person can have a different view or interpretation of behavior (depending on his or her values and beliefs), the determination of mental health may be difficult. In most cases, mental health is a state of emo-tional, psychological, and social wellness evidenced by sat-isfying interpersonal relationships, effective behavior and coping, positive self-concept, and emotional stability.
Mental health has many components, and a wide vari-ety of factors influence it. These factors interact; thus, a person’s mental health is a dynamic, or ever-changing, state. Factors influencing a person’s mental health can be categorized as individual, interpersonal, and social/cultural. Individual, or personal, factors include a person’s biologic makeup, autonomy and independence, self-esteem, capac-ity for growth, vitality, ability to find meaning in life, emo-tional resilience or hardiness, sense of belonging, reality orientation, and coping or stress management abilities. Interpersonal, or relationship, factors include effective communication, ability to help others, intimacy, and a bal-ance of separateness and connectedness. Social/cultural, or environmental, factors include a sense of community, access to adequate resources, intolerance of violence, sup-port of diversity among people, mastery of the environ-ment, and a positive, yet realistic, view of one’s world. Individual, interpersonal, and social/cultural factors.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2000) defines a mental disorder as “a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an indi-vidual and is associated with present distress (e.g., a pain-ful symptom) or disability (i.e., impairment in one or more important areas of functioning) or with a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom” (p. xxxi). General criteria to diagnose mental disorders include dissatisfaction with one’s characteristics, abilities, and accomplishments; inef-fective or unsatisfying relationships; dissatisfaction with one’s place in the world; ineffective coping with life events; and lack of personal growth. In addition, the person’s behavior must not be culturally expected or sanctioned. However, deviant behavior does not necessarily indicate a mental disorder (APA, 2000).
Factors contributing to mental illness can also be viewed within individual, interpersonal, and social/cultural catego-ries. Individual factors include biologic makeup, intolerable or unrealistic worries or fears, inability to distinguish reality from fantasy, intolerance of life’s uncertainties, a sense of disharmony in life, and a loss of meaning in one’s life. Inter-personal factors include ineffective communication, exces-sive dependency on or withdrawal from relationships, no sense of belonging, inadequate social support, and loss of emotional control. Social/cultural factors include lack of resources, violence, homelessness, poverty, an unwarranted negative view of the world, and discrimination such as stigma, racism, classism, ageism, and sexism.