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The importance of mental wellness… ‘We all need someone to speak to’


Tue Feb 03, 2015

by Dr Jozelle Miller

For too long there has been a misconception surrounding the concept of mental health or mental wellness. There is a preconceived notion that if someone goes to a therapist that they are ‘crazy’ and mentally unstable. The sad reality is that, as a result of this faulty reasoning, many persons avoid taking preventative and precautionary measures in safe-guarding their mental health and as such would wait until it is just about too late; after trying many maladaptive coping mechanisms…to seek help.{{more}} What we forget is that we all need someone we can speak with about some of our day-to-day challenges, who can provide new insights and solutions from an objective point of view.

Mental health improves the quality of life:

When we are free of depression, anxiety, excessive stress and worry, addictions, and other psychological problems, we are more able to live our lives to the fullest. Peace of mind is a natural condition, and is available to everyone.

Mental health strengthens and supports our ability to:

o have healthy relationships

o make good life choices

o maintain physical health and well-being

o handle the natural ups and downs of life

o discover and grow toward our potential

Mental health treatment reduces medical costs

Many research studies have shown that when people receive appropriate mental health care, their use of medical services declines. For example, one study of people with anxiety disorders showed that after psychological treatment, the number of medical visits decreased, laboratory costs decreased, and overall treatment costs dropped.

Other studies have shown that people with untreated mental health problems visit a medical doctor twice as often as people who receive mental health care.

Excessive anxiety and stress can contribute to physical problems such as heart disease, ulcers, and colitis, sexual dysfunction etc. Anxiety and stress can also reduce the strength of the immune system, making people more vulnerable to conditions ranging from the common cold to cancer.

Psychological problems also increase the likelihood that people will make poor behavioural choices which can contribute to medical problems. Smoking, excessive alcohol or drug use, poor eating habits, and reckless behaviour can all result in severe physical problems and the need for medical services.

The mind is both powerful and fragile, so while we depend on its strength to resilient, we must also acknowledge its fragility and guard it.

Jozelle Miller (PhD) is a Health Psychologist & Wellness Consultant