A desperate father wanting the child compete for competitive exam ,a helpless mother not able to help her child understand anything being taught in the class room or at the tutorials ,a frustrated teacher regularly complaining to the parents to displine their child or take him /her away from the class are instances that we come across every day. Instances of tantrums throwing , of anger bursts ,laziness regular fights with siblings , not listening to parents ,indulging into internet browsing ,surfing of unwanted sites, staying away from home till late hours or not listening to parents are often seen as bad behaviour ,bad habits and bad attitude by many parents.It is rather sad that parents do not understand all such things mentioned above could be on account of child’s poor mental health or mental disorders. Resultantly youngsters are not understood correctly and they suffer frustration and uncalled for irritation. A good mental health free from any kind of disease or disorder is what a child must possess . But what if and for those who are not so blessed ,do parents really understand how can they know if there is anything lacking in their child’s mental health and if so how to help their child cope up.’

Differentiating mental health and mental illnesses is very important for any parent ,teacher and all those who are involved in mentoring youngsters. A healthy mental health would mean that we are of sound mind and are capable of deciding what is good or bad for us and behaving well socially economically and emotionally. A mental illness may not necessarily mean that you can not be any of the above .It could mean that in some areas of your life you may be finding it difficult to behave and decide appropriately psychologically . A mental disorder or a psychological distress are two different concepts and parents need to understand how it may apply to their child if he /she exhibits a behaviour inappropriate to the situation.

Thus, it is essential to understand that psychological distress in a given situation does not indicate absence of mental health .A psychological disorder or distress can be short term ,or of a long lasting nature depending on how the person has been affected and hence affecting the child’s overall state of well-being. Mental illnesses, on the other hand, are health conditions involving changes in thinking, emotion or behaviour (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, professional or family activities.

Mental health is a subjective phenomenon and an individualised experience, different for every person. A state of mental well-being for one individual may not be the same for another individual.  Factors that may induce mental well-being for individuals will also differ. The state of being sound at a mental level can vary within a day and from day to day. There can be an incident that may boost or degrade a person’s mental health on a daily basis.

Mental health is often seen to be on a continuum, where the scale starts from mental well-being on one end to emotional problems and concerns in the middle to mental illnesses at the other extreme.

It is often seen that mental health and mental illnesses are not understood correctly. There are a lot of myths that surround mental health and thus lead to the widely seen stigmatised approach. Let’s take a while to debunk the myths and understand the actual facts about mental health:

Myth #1: Mental illnesses are not real illnesses.

Fact: Mental illnesses are not the regular ups and downs of life. Mental illnesses create distress, don’t go away on their own and are real health problems. When someone is physically injured, they see a doctor. Similarly, mental health problems also require seeing a mental health professional- psychologist/counsellor/psychiatrist.

Myth #2: “Mental illnesses will never affect my child or me”

Fact: All of us can be affected by mental illnesses. Researchers estimate that as many as one in four Indians will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. You may not experience a mental illness yourself, but it’s very likely that a family member, friend or co-worker will experience challenges.

Myth #3: Mental illnesses are just an excuse for poor behaviour.

Fact: It’s true that some people who experience mental illnesses may act in ways that are unexpected or seem strange to others. We need to remember that the illness, not the person, is behind this behaviour. People who experience a change in their behaviour due to a mental illness may feel extremely embarrassed or ashamed around others. It is important to understand that people with a mental illness are one of us.

Myth #4: Stress causes mental illnesses.

Fact: No one factor can cause mental illnesses as these are complicated conditions that arise from a combination of genetics, biology, environment, and psycho-social factors. Stress may aggravate the mental or physical state of the problem for an individual but it is never the sole problem of an illness.

Myth #5: People with mental illnesses are violent and dangerous.

Fact: People who experience a mental illness are no more violent than people without a mental illness. It’s also important to note that people who experience mental illnesses are much more likely to be victims of violence than to be violent. Excluding them from society because they are violent is because of a misunderstanding and stigmatic approach to mental health.

Myth #6 : People who experience mental illnesses are weak and they have a character flaw.

Fact:  Stress impacts well-being, but this is true for everyone. Many people who experience mental illnesses learn skills like stress management and problem-solving so that they can remain optimally functional. Taking care of yourself and asking for help when you need it are signs of strength, not weakness. Mental illnesses don’t determine the character of a person. Mental illnesses are like other ailments and can be managed.

Myth #7: People who experience mental illnesses cannot go to work or follow a regular lifestyle.

Fact: Mental illnesses do not certify that someone is no longer capable of working. Most people who experience serious mental illnesses want to work but face systemic barriers to finding and keeping meaningful employment. Medical or therapeutic help can allow them to resume work and a manageable lifestyle.

Myth #8: Children cannot have mental illnesses. Those are adult problems.

bipolar disorder

Fact: Even children can experience mental illnesses. In fact, many mental illnesses first appear when a person is young. Mental illnesses may look different in children than in adults, but they are a real concern at a younger age as well. Unfortunately, many children don’t receive the help they need. It is important to remember that illnesses can occur and be diagnosed as early as 6-8 months of age.

Being mentally healthy is not about being perfect. Nor is it about being extraordinarily intelligent or successful or rich. Mental health is irrespective of these factors. These factors may influence the mental health of an individual but they are not a cause nor do they determine the state of an individual’s mental health. We all can suffer from mental health problems and we all can attain better mental s health and healthy state of mind if we recognize the deviation in time and consult a mental health specialist .

Family is Everything even for your children .Make them feel safe and protected.

Published by Ramneek Kapoor

Mr. Ramneek Kapoor Postgraduate Dip.in Counselling and Family Therapy,M.A.Clinical Psychology, M.A.Science of Living Preksha Meditation & Yoga,M.A.Eng,M.B.A,P.G.D.M.S.M. A well known family therapist, relationship counselor, clinical psychologist and counseling psychologist.Dr. Kapoor is an expert in clinical analysis of the marital emotional issues,Family therapy, Relationship therapy, Marital therapy ,relationship counseling , psychotherapies , Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Solution Focused based short term therapy, Group therapy, , counseling for Suicidal Patients, depression, anxiety, stress and anger Management techniques and Relaxation techniques to mention a few. He has been actively involved in helping families, elderly couples, married couples, dating couples with their mental health and well being . He has been acknowledged as the best mentor family therapist of young children , school kids, adolescents and young college going youth, married couples ,elderly people suffering from mental, psychological and emotional issues in their lives. He is presently working as “Family Therapist, Relationship Counselor ,Clinical and Counseling Psychologist” in Alka Mansik Pramarsh Foundation, Indore (M.P.) dealing in family therapy , relationship psychology, clinical psychology , child psychology, Neuro-psychology. View all posts by Ramneek Kapoor

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