Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Mental Health Support within a Community

October 25, 2020 · No Comments · Mental Health, Uncategorized

Mental health is a public and global health topic that is not discussed as much as physical health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Stigma around Mental Health

There is a lot of stigma around mental health, which can then lead to discrimination. Discrimination around mental health can be very harmful to people dealing with mental health problems, and these harmful effects of stigma can include:

  • Reluctance in seeking treatment or help
  • Fewer opportunities for school, work, or other social activities, and trouble finding housing
  • Lack of understanding by friends, family, co-workers, others
  • Health insurance that does not adequately cover mental health or illness treatment(s)
  • Bullying, harassment or physical violence
  • Negative thoughts, such as lack of self-efficacy and self-esteem around certain challenges

It is very important for individuals dealing with mental health problems to seek help and to not isolate themselves. Many people dealing with stress, depression, or other social or behavioral problem often experience negative or suicidal thoughts, but the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help by providing free emotional support:

This lifeline is available to anyone 24/7 and people are able to chat with someone via their website, or they can call 1-800-273-8255. It is very important to share this with everyone as we don’t always know who might need it most; this can help save a life.

Support Groups for Individuals with Mental Health or Other Behavioral Disorders

People who have any mental, social, or behavioral disorder/disability may need social support groups. For example, people with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression can really benefit from social groups or social networks as they can provide emotional support. Support groups are usually run by mental health professionals and can help people engage with their peers dealing with the same issues and provide an overall supportive community. The Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University offers PEERS® Clinic, which is a “16-week evidence-based social skills intervention for motivated individuals who are interested in learning new ways of making and keeping friends.” The Program for the Education & Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) may be more appropriate for adolescents and young adults with autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other social and behavioral disorders.

Mental Health during a Crisis or Pandemic

Such programs or groups are especially important during a crisis or pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused fear and anxiety in many people, and all the consequences of our lack of control over the pandemic is overwhelming, which can lead to strong emotions in children and adults. The stress and emotions from the outbreak can lead to:

  • Changes in sleep and/or eating patterns, which can then lead to difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health (non-communicable diseases) and mental health problems
  • Fear and worry about one’s own health, as well as fear and worry about the health of a loved one
  • Fear and worry about financial or job situations and loss of support services
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other unhealthy substance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides many resources for anyone struggling with mental health problems; they provide lifelines and helplines in this link for different situations:

Community Mental Health Care/Services

Many organizations are helping people and providing their services to the community, which is known as Community Mental Health. Such services provide or treat people with mental disorders in community settings rather than in a psychiatric hospital; this can help people feel safer and feel like they’re in a more comfortable environment.

Further, community-based care is designed to decrease the cost of inpatient mental health care that is typically delivered in hospitals. It is also important to note that these community services may be more accessible and may be more responsive to local needs.

Mental Health in Youth (facts & statistics)

  • Mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10 to 19 years old
  • Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents
  • Globally, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in 15 to 19-year-olds
  • In the United States, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in 10 to 24-year-olds
  • Suicide rates among youth have been increasing over the years that they are now the group at greatest risk in one third of countries, in both developed and developing countries
  • However, suicide rates tend to increase with age, worldwide 
  • Of the reported suicides among 10 to 24-year-olds in the United States, 84% of deaths were among males and 16% among females













WHO Recommendations (2013-2020) and Future Directions

  • Strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health
  • Implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health
  • Provide comprehensive, integrated, and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings
  • Strengthen information systems, evidence, and research for mental health

The promotion and prevention interventions are set out to strengthen a person’s capacity to build resilience for hardships and difficult situations, regulate emotions, and promote supportive social environments and social networks.

Finally, if we invest in mental health, we can save and improve the quality of lives of millions of people by 2030 – Goal #3 from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)!







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