“We must bring the issue of mental illness out into the sunlight, out of the shadow, out of the closet, deal with it, treat people, have centers where people can get the necessary help.”
John Lewis, Politician
Mental Illness: Causes, Effects & Solutions
Mental illness (sometimes also referred to as mental disorder or mental health issues) can be defined as mental or behavioral pattern which can lead to significant impairment of personal functioning.
Mental illness can lead to a variety of severe health conditions, which can even lead to death in the worst case.
In this article, the causes, types, effects and solutions for mental disorders are examined.
Extent of Mental Disorders worldwide
Mental illness is a huge global problem. It has been estimated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that more than 790 million people suffered from mental health conditions in 2017 worldwide.
Causes for Mental Disorders
- Parenting issues
- Stroke of fate
- Bad childhood experiences
- Relationship issues
- Self-esteem problems
- Social pressure
- Cultural values
- Genetic preconditions
- Substance abuse of parents during pregnancy
- Brain defects
- Social isolation
Stress can be a significant cause of mental disorders. In our nowadays society, we often feel stressed and overwhelmed by all the tasks we have on our schedule.
Excessive levels of stress can come from a demanding job but also from private issues at home. Moreover, we are flooded with information every minute of our life since we get the latest news on our smartphones in real-time.
Also, the use of social media can contribute to significant stress levels. Studies have shown that people who frequently use social media platforms are more unhappy on average compared to people who just rarely or never use social media channels.
This may be due to the fact that the use of social media can be time-consuming and this time will be missing for other tasks of our daily life, which may lead to significant stress levels.
Moreover, people often compare themselves to others. Since on social media, everyone is posting their life’s highlight pictures, people often feel sad and envious.
All this negative feelings and stress may lead in turn to significant mental health issues, since people are often overwhelmed by all this information and impressions and may not be able to process them in a healthy manner.
People who have been abused as a child or also during the course of their adult life may suffer from severe mental illness. These people often try to suppress the horrible events that happened to them.
However, these suppressed feelings may turn into mental disorders in the long run and may lead to all kinds of mental health issues.
A high level of neglect in childhood can also contribute to mental problems. Children who have been neglected in their childhood tend to develop anxieties and other mental health issues once they turn into grownups.
Since our parents have a huge impact on our development, parenting issues can also lead to severe mental health conditions for the affected children.
For instance, if your parents treat you quite poorly in your childhood, chances are that you will never be able to develop a healthy level of self-esteem since you never got the feeling to be valuable.
Moreover, if your parents suffered from drug addiction, chances are that you might become addicted as well since children often adopt the behavior of their parents. Drug abuse may in turn lead to several mental disorders in the long run.
Stroke of fate
Some events in our life can really hit us in a way that we are not able to process and accept them in the first place. However, some people are more sensitive than others when it comes to strokes of fate.
Therefore, quite sensitive people may not be able to deal with a serious of adverse events in their life with the necessary strengths and may suffer from severe mental health disorders due to those strokes of fate.
Bad childhood experiences
Our childhood significantly determines how our life will turn out once we turn into grownups. Thus, if you had a poor childhood with many problems, chances are that you may suffer from severe mental illness once you grow up since your perspective on life might be quite negative, which may result in a vicious circle of negativity, lack of motivation and depression.
Bullying can also lead to mental health issues for the respective victims. Especially in childhood when the character of people is still quite fragile, bullying can lead to quite a lot of damage.
People who suffered from bullying in their childhood may experience significant mental problems in their adulthood and may also suffer from low levels of self-esteem.
Relationships issues can be a main source of mental problems. Many people worldwide build their whole life around their family. However, this kind of emotional dependence also implies a great risk for mental issues since in case people get divorced and lose their family, many people will not be able to deal with their loss and may fall into depression or suffer from other mental conditions.
Low levels of self-esteem can also lead to mental illness. Since life is not easy from time to time, people with low levels of self-esteem may not be able to deal with all the shit that comes along life.
Adverse events in the life of these people may take away all their hope and their self-esteem may become even lower. Thus, there may be a vicious circle of low self esteem and mental problems, from which it might be quite hard to escape from.
Social pressure might be another cause of mental health problems. The majority of people in our current society feel the obligation to fit in our social paradigm.
However, fitting in to cultural values can lead to a loss of identity for many people, which may translate into emotional weakness and mental illness in the long run since people may never learn who they actually are.
Cultural values are often considered to be the north star of people. Violating cultural values, on the other hand, may destroy the reputation of people.
Thus, many people are worried about violating cultural values, even if they secretly do not believe in them. In turn, behaving against their beliefs may lead to plenty of emotional stress for those people.
Another big cause of mental illness is poverty. Poor people are often not able to get proper education, which in turn may lead to low levels of education. A lack of education may lead to unemployment or to quite bad job opportunities for those people.
In turn, people may get frustrated and lose their hope for a better future, which may result in severe mental health issues.
Making things worse, poor people may also not be able to get proper medical treatment against mental health issues, which exacerbates the issue even further.
Drug use may be both a cause as well as an effect of mental health problems. Drug addicts are usually quite obsessive to assure their daily supply of drugs. Therefore, they are often willing to commit illegal actions, which may result in jail in the long run.
Moreover, many drug addicts will end up homeless in the streets. All these adverse living conditions as well as substance abuse itself may lead to severe mental health conditions.
Studies have shown that mental health problems can be handed down to future generations. Thus, if your parents suffered from mental problems, you have increased chances to suffer from mental illness as well.
Substance abuse of parents during pregnancy
If your parents consumed illegal drugs or also legal drugs like alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy, chances are that the unborn child will suffer from severe physical and also from mental health issues.
However, many drug addicts do not care too much about this issue since their substance is often their number one priority, which increases the chances of mental health issues for their children significantly.
Diseases can also lead to mental health conditions. For instance, some diseases may result in long term mental health issues if they are not treated properly. Moreover, people may also develop mental issues due to physical health conditions.
For example, imagine you have an accident and have to use a wheelchair due to this accident. You may not mentally able to accept this fact since you want your old life back, which in turn may result in depression or other mental health problems.
Brain defects may also play a role in the development of mental health conditions. However, it is quite hard for scientists to assess the true impact of brain defects on mental health, since there are many other variables in a person’s life which could also affect their mental health state.
Some people define themselves mainly on their success in their professional work career. However, this is quite dangerous since if those people get fired, they may fall into depression or develop several other mental health issues since their purpose in life has been taken away from them from one day to the other.
People who live on the street may develop significant health issues, both physically as well as mentally. They are often not able to deal with their situation and try to suppress their feelings.
Moreover, many homeless persons also use drugs, which makes the situation even worse in the long run. These circumstances can lead to serious mental health problems and may also lead to suicide in the worst case.
Depending on the stability of a person’s mental health, social isolation may also lead to mental problems. While some people do not have problems to spend plenty of time alone, others are desperate for company.
If the second group of people does not have enough social interaction, this group may become mentally sick in the long run.
Enough sleep is crucial for our body and brain to work properly. People who suffer from insomnia may also suffer from severe mental health problems since their brain will be overwhelmed on a regular basis due to a lack of sleep and will not be able to process information in a healthy manner. Thus, people who suffer from insomnia are also much more likely to develop other mental health issues.
Obese people often also suffer from quite low levels of self-esteem, which in turn may lead to depression or several other mental health issues. They are also often victims of bullying, which makes their situation even worse.
Discrimination may also be a significant cause for the development of mental health issues. For instance, if you are a minority and are discriminated in every part of your daily life, including education, job opportunities and many other things, you may be more likely to develop a high level of frustration, which may turn into hopelessness and depression in the long run.
Types and Effects of Mental Illness
- Social isolation
- Physical health issues
- Personality disorder
- Obsessive or compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorder
- Self-harm disorder
- Panic attack
- Bipolar disorder
- Suicidal tendencies
Mental health issues can lead to social isolation. People who suffer from mental illness may no longer have the motivation to leave their home and watch TV or play video games all day long instead.
However, this may lead to a point where they lose all their social connections, including family members and close friends. This may further exacerbate their mental situation, which may result in a vicious circle of loneliness and mental problems.
Physical health issues
Mental problems may also lead to physical health issues. For instance, if your brain does no longer work properly, you may forget to carry out tasks of your daily life. This may include answering your mail from official authorities regarding social security and health insurance.
Thus, in case of injury, you may not be protected by health insurance since you missed communicating to your health insurance company which in turn may lead to severe health issues since you may not be able to pay for the treatment costs yourself.
Mental health issues may also lead to accidents of many sorts. For example, if you suffer from mental issues and are not able to pay attention to the traffic, the likelihood that you get involved and hurt in a traffic accident increases significantly.
People who suffer from mental health conditions may often feel not valuable and do not feel as a functional part of society. This kind of emotional loneliness may result in serious levels of depression.
Moreover, people with mental health issues also often become socially isolated, which may increase the likelihood of depression even more.
Mental health issues may also include personality disorders. People suffering from personality disorder usually display maladaptive patterns that are deviating against the accepted norms of a culture.
However, not everyone who deviates from social norms can be regarded as suffering from personality disorders, so that the diagnosis of a personality disorder can be quite tricky and may in fact often be false.
Psychosis may be caused by mental health issues or also be drug abuse that has been caused by mental health problems.
People suffering from psychosis usually have difficulties to recognize what’s real and what’s not real.
Thus, they may also be in danger of physical accidents if they are no longer able to differentiate between dreams and being awake.
Obsessive or compulsive disorder
People who suffer from obsessive or compulsive disorders feel the need to perform certain routines repeatedly. These people often have only insufficient control over their thoughts and routines, which may make them dangerous to society if they develop violent thoughts.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
PTSD is often developed by persons who suffered from traumatic events in their past. This can include the death of a loved one or also child abuse of several sorts.
Thus, extremely horrible events often cause post-traumatic stress disorders, which may also lead to other mental conditions in the long run.
Depending on the person, mental issues may also result in an eating disorder. While some people eat excessively to cover their mental issues, some people lose their appetite when facing tough mental states.
Therefore, for the second group of people, eating disorders may result in anorexia, which may even lead to death in the worst case.
Some people with mental health issues also suffer from self-harm disorders. In order to distract themselves from their mental pain, they accept to physically harm themselves since their mental issues often cause more pain than their physical harm.
People suffering from schizophrenia often hear voices that are actually only in their heads and also often suffer from different types of psychosis.
This may in turn make them unsuitable for social interactions, since they may be a danger for themselves and also for others. This may lead to social isolation, which may make the problem even worse.
Panic attacks are usually characterized by a sudden and uncontrolled episode of intense fear, without actually being a reason for that from an objective standpoint. Thus, people suffering from panic attacks often lose control over rather trivial things due to their mental health issues.
Mental illness is often accompanied by anxiety. People who suffer from mental disorders are often afraid to meet other people and are also afraid when they take a look at their future. Many of them are quite hopeless and also feel lost in life.
BPD is characterized by abnormally elevated moods. People who suffer from BPD often have difficulties to maintain social relationships, since they are often quite compulsive and hurt the feelings of others.
Mental health issues of several sorts may also lead to suicidal tendencies for many people. Mental issues like depression often lead to a state where people lose their will to live.
These people may see death as a form of relief and may therefore commit suicide. Therefore, it is crucial to detect and medically treat mental issues appropriately in order to avoid suicide of people.
Solutions for Mental Disorders
- Psychiatric support
- Medical treatment
- Programs against drug use
- Reintegration of homeless persons into society
- Fight discrimination
- Fight bullying
- Support children who had a tough childhood
- Reduce unemployment
- Psychological support in case of strokes of fate
- Increase the level of tolerance in our society
- Build self-esteem
- Ignore social pressure
- Raise awareness on this topic
People who are suffering from mental health problems should get support from psychiatrists in order to be able to overcome or at least reduce their mental problems.
Hence, in every health insurance worldwide, people should have the right to get mental support from psychiatrists or psychologists in case they need it.
Many mental health problems also have to be treated with certain drugs in order to minimize symptoms. Depending on the mental problem and the overall state of the patient, doctors should prescribe medicine against mental illness.
However, also drugs that are designed to fight mental health issues may have severe side effects and may even exacerbate the mental problems of patients.
Thus, these drugs should be prescribed with great care and on an individual basis in order to avoid making things even worse for patients.
Programs against drug use
Since the use of legal and illegal drugs can cause severe mental health problems, it is crucial to introduce programs against drug dependence. These programs should start in school where children are educated in an objective manner about the dangers of drugs.
In contrast to our current view on things, we should not only highlight the dangers of illegal drugs, but should also focus on the harmful effects of legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, which are responsible for a low life expectancy of millions of people worldwide.
Reintegration of homeless persons into society
Since homelessness can also contribute to the development of mental illness, we should introduce programs that aim to reintegrate homeless persons into our society.
Many homeless people actually want to have their old life back, however, they are often overwhelmed by their problems and don’t know where to start.
By supporting them and giving them a clear plan on how to get back into normal life, they may also get back their hope and fight for a better future.
Discrimination is a big global issue and contributes to a variety of problems, including the development of mental health issues.
Governments and celebrities across the world have to take a stand in order to decrease the level of inequality and to increase the level of freedom of people.
By doing so, the overall acceptance for discriminated minorities will increase in our society and the level of discrimination will be lowered due to that.
We as a society should also try to fight bullying. Victims of bullying may suffer from severe mental issues. Thus, whenever you see kids bullying someone, take a stand against it! By doing so, we can eradicate bullying in our society step by step.
Support children who had a tough childhood
Children who had been abused by their parents or other families or had a tough childhood for other reasons are often traumatized. These children need special support from psychologists so that they are able to overcome their trauma.
Since many people fall into depression due to unemployment, it is also crucial to reduce unemployment rates when it comes to fighting mental health issues.
Therefore, governments in regions with high unemployment rates may introduce financial incentives for firms to open branches in those regions.
These financial incentives can come in the form of tax advantages or other financial subsidies. By doing so, firms have a bigger incentive to open branches and unemployment rates are likely to decrease due to that.
Psychological support in case of strokes of fate
A series of horrible events can lead to mental issues for some people. Those people often need psychological assistance in order to be able to process what happened to them.
Thus, basic health insurance should also include the consultation of a psychologist in case of such strokes of fate happen.
Increase the level of tolerance in our society
We also have to increase the level of tolerance in our society. Although many politicians and many people claim to be tolerant, their actions do not match their words at all. This is especially true when it comes to minorities or other people who do not share the same cultural values.
We should increase our level of tolerance towards minorities significantly in order to integrate them into society. Only then will those people feel as valuable members of society and fewer people will suffer from mental problems.
If you suffer from mental illness, one step to fight it is to build self-esteem. Self-esteem is crucial in life for success since if you are confident, you will master hard situations in life much easier compared to people who always struggle with themselves. Thus, in order to improve your level of self-esteem, join groups who share the same view on life.
You can also join sports clubs or do activities on your own. Once you find the courage to go out and do things, you will be surprised how easy your self-esteem will increase and your mental issues may vanish due to that.
Ignore social pressure
Many people in our nowadays society also feel what is called “social pressure”. People feel the need to oblige to social norms and cultural values.
However, this compliance with cultural values often leads to high levels of unhappiness since people are not free to do what they actually want.
Thus, instead of complying with social norms, try to form your own character and act according to that. You will be surprised how much better you will feel by ignoring social values and do whatever you want.
Raise awareness on this topic
Many people are still not aware that mental disorders are a big problem in our society. Thus, you should raise awareness on this topic so that parents take care of their children and can react in case they detect mental problems.
Education is crucial to fight several kinds of problems. This is also true when it comes to fighting mental illness. Thus, children as well as grownups should be taught about mental health issues so that they can take measures to avoid the development of those issues.
Mental illness is a significant problem in our nowadays society. The daily information overload tends to make people quite insecure and overwhelmed by all those impressions. People who are not able to deal with this information overload properly may be at risk to develop mental health issues.
Of course, there are also several other causes of mental health issues. Mental disorders can lead to a variety of serious effects, including suicide in the worst case.
In order to fight mental disorders, we have to increase the tolerance in our society and also provide medical and psychological support for people suffering from mental disorders.
By doing so, we can increase the overall mental and physical health of our society and can also improve the quality of life for many people worldwide.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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