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Health

All things mental health.

Mental health refers to cognitive behavioral and emotional well being. It is all about what people think,feel and behave.In this article ,we try to explain what people mean by mental health and mental illness. We also describe the most common types of mental disorders, their early signs and how to treat them.Mental health has historically been neglected on Africa’s health and development policy agenda.In kenya mental health disorders cases have risen exponentially in kenya. It is estimated that 6 million Kenyans suffer from common mental conditions. Budgetary allocation for mental health in kenya is only 0.5% of health budget thus leaving mental equation overstretched.
What is mental health?According to WHO mental health is a state of well being in which an individual realizes his/her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life , can work productively and is able to make contribution to his/her community.
Risk factors for mental health disorders.Basically anyone is at risk of developing mental health disorders no matter their age, sex, income, race or ethnicity.The following factors may contribute to mental health disruptions;
1. Continuous social and economic pressure.Having limited financial means or belonging to marginalized ethnic group can increase the risk of mental health disorders.Mental health can be classified into;1. Modified factors (can change over time).2. Non modified (permanent).Modified factors include;1. Socioeconomic conditions i.e work availability in local areas.2. Occupation.3. Education.4. Housing quality.
Non modified factors include;1. Age2. Gender.3. Ethnicity.
2. Biological factors.Genetic family history can contribute to the increase in likelihood of mental health disorders. But having genes with links to mental health does not necessarily mean you must have any mental health disorder.
Common mental health disorders.1. Anxiety disorders.This is a group of mental illness that cause constant and overwhelming anxiety.
Types of anxiety disorders.1. Generalized anxiety disorder.You feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason.
2. Panic disorder.You feel sudden, intense fear that brings on a panic attack.
3. Social anxiety disorder.This is where you feel overwhelmingly worry and self consciousness about every day social situations. You worry about people judging you.
4. Obsessive compulsive disorders.People with OCD have obsessive and compulsions. In other words experience constant stressful thoughts and powerful urge to perform repetitive acts.
5. Phobias.Specific phobias- you feel intense fear in specific objects or situations such as heights, water and animals etc.Agoraphobia- where you have intense fear of being in a place where it seems hard to escape eg public transportation etc.
6. Post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).Occur after a person experiences or witnesses a deeply stressful or traumatic event.

2. Mood disorders.They are characterized by a serious change in mood that cause disruption to life activities.They include;1. Depression.It is a mood disorder that causes persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to emotional and physical problem ie suicidal thoughts.
2. Bipolar disorder.It is a mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to think clearly. People with bipolar experience high and low moods.
3. Dysthymia.Also known as persistent depressive disorder (PDD).It is a chronic form of depression.

3. Schizophrenia.Mental health condition that usually appears in late adolescence or early adulthood. It has impact on speech, thinking emotions and other areas of life. This can affect social interaction and everyday activities.
Early signs of mental health disorders.There is no physical test that shows whether a person has developed a mental illness.Signs to look out for include;
1. Withdrawal from friends, family and colleagues.2. Eating too much or too little.3. Hopelessness.4. Confusion.5. Sleeping too much or too little.6. Avoiding your normal day activities.7. Drug abuse.8. Delusions.9. Hearing voices.10. Suicidal thoughts.
Treatment for mental health disorders.There are various methods for managing mental health problems. The treatment entirely depends on an individual. What works for one person may not work for another. They include;
1. Psychotherapy/counselling.It is one of the most common treatment for mental health disorders. It includes talking about your problems to a mental health professional.
2. Prescription medicine. The medicine for mental disorders make changes to brain chemicals that are involved in emotions and thought patterns.
3. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).A relatively short term treatment which aims to identify connection between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and help develop practical skills to manage any negative patterns that may be causing you difficulties.
4. Arts and creative therapies.Are a way of using arts( music, painting, dance or drama) to express and understand yourself in a therapeutic environment with a trained therapist.
5. Complementary and alternative therapies.They include; yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, herbal remedies and acupuncture.

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