Each year, nearly 1 in 5 American adults will experience a mental illness. For many of these Americans, their illnesses will never be diagnosed, resulting in a life of pain and difficulty. Fortunately, preventative care for mental health is beginning to become more popular and a frequent topic of conversation in the psychiatric community.
You inherit genetic predisposition, not the illness itself.
Psychiatric disorders cannot be predicted, but researchers firmly believe genetics play a part in mental illness. This is primarily because mental disorders tend to run in families, often affecting individuals in the same family generation after generation. If a person has a blood relative who suffers from a mental disorder, the descendants may carry a risk for mental illness. By learning about your family history, you can learn whether you are at risk for a mental disorder. Much in the way some genetically predispose physical illnesses could be prevented with healthy lifestyle changes, predisposition for mental illness may be prevented with effective and healthy coping mechanism, social and environmental factors.
The Effect of Poverty and Trauma on Mental Wellness
Lower-income individuals are often at greater risk of developing mental health disorders, especially anxiety and depression. To make matters worse, those with mental illnesses tend to earn significantly less than those without an illness. When a person cannot meet basic needs of shelter, food, or clothing, the risk of mental illness will increase.
Traumatic events such as abuse, war, and acts of crime can also predispose a person to developing mental illness, in particular, post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Role of Education in Preventative Mental Care
Education is one of the most important keys to preventative care when it comes to mental illness. Parents, teachers,community leaders, employers, and even religious figures should take time to understand the signs of mental illness. Like physical illnesses, mental illnesses have a variety of symptoms, and by understanding these symptoms, individuals can intervene if they feel someone else may be in crisis. They can then direct them toward the appropriate mental illness treatment.
A Widespread Social Concern
Preventing mental illness should be a widespread social concern, not just the concern of a few advocates and activists. Although it is impossible to eradicate mental illness, we can make preventative resources such as counseling, medication, and community education available to all. Learn more about preventing mental illness here.