Uncovering Mental Health | MHSA

Written by Deborah Ellul

What is Mental Health ?

Mental Health are two current words which are being articulated in every corner of our daily lives, and sometimes without deciphering a definition. Therefore, as WHO rightly explained, mental health is a

State of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the
normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his
or her community.

WHO 2022

Thus, our mental health has the ability to define the ways that we feel on a day-to-day basis, how we think and process information, as well as behave both on our own and side by side others. It is not always about a mental disorder, as usually people focus on just maintaining a non – appearance of such mental health problems. It also includes a person’s ability to uphold continuous wellness and happiness. Therefore, since our mental health will be affected both through ourselves and others, this well – being should be practised on and individual level and a communal one.

How Mental Health Affects Physical Health

As we all know, our body is made up of different systems which correlate simultaneously. One separate part can have a comprehensive influence on the rest of the body resulting in the whole structure to be affected. Thereby, our mental state will ultimately have its apparent affects on our physical state due to the simple foundation that one compliments the other cohesively.

Some of the very prevalent symptoms which are usually felt amid a depressive episode, for instance are fatigue and insomnia. Depression can be felt as exceptionally draining to the whole body and sometimes the daytime exhaustion is a result of the insomnia. As a consequence of this, headaches can start to emanate making the person feel even more irritable and in pain, ultimately making it even more strenuous for the person to better themselves.

Supplementary to the aforementioned is anxiety, more specifically chronic anxiety as it usually impedes on the daily performance of a person. One of the problems that may occur here is a long – term release of stress hormones on a regular basis leading to headaches, light-headedness, and weight gain which can then intensify into depression. The Cardiovascular system is also affected here as anxiety can be a trigger for fast heart rate, chest pain, palpitations, all adding up to high blood pressure.

Therefore, we should be mindful when trying to apprehend and support someone suffering from a mental health issue, as at times the person can truly show you their daily struggle from minor indications but which causes them a lot of distress.

Mental Health in Earlier Years

The outlook and frame of mind concerning mental health has altered quite a bit from former times. Nowadays, in most countries, we are fortunate enough to go and seek the appropriate help we require, without much thought given and sometimes even as a free service. These new approaches and advancements required centuries and a great deal of committed and devoted people to come in view, as things were not always so admissible and customary. Olden times viewed mental health in a far more bizarre way with superstition and supernatural beliefs, rather than with a view of care, empathy, and science. Usually, people that were suffering from a mental health problem were affiliated with curses, witchcraft, and even satanic possessions. These people were seen as outcasts and barely ever found the care and compassion they so helplessly needed. To make matters worse, since mental health carried such a pessimistic and unfavourable connotation with it, the medications used were equally inhumane. Practises such as:

  • Insulin Coma therapy
  • Isolation
  • Lobotomies
  • Electroconvulsive shock therapy

were among the few that were used. These barbaric solutions usually left patients far worse than they initially started and in a more state of loneliness. An example of this for instance was documented in the famous novel ‘The Bell Jar’, by Sylvia Plath, were Sylvia recounted her own personal experience with Electroconvulsive Shock Therapy with a genuine description of how it actually was perceived by patients.

In furtherance, the asylums that patients were left at utilized equipment such as strait jackets to limit the persons mobility, leather wristlets and even manacles. These were deemed safe and necessary, but people were sometimes left in them for hours or even days without any merited motive.

How Time Improved Mental Health

The subject of mental health has since reformed and evolved throughout these past few years. People have become more inclined to learn and acknowledge the beauty in accepting and aiding others that are found to be struggling. Due to this safety being integrated into societies people are becoming less discouraged to seek the requisite help. Consequently, the
stigmas have since been diminished which finally improved the mental illness stereotypes.

One of the very paramount factors which achieved the aforesaid were the primacies given by the government towards mental wellbeing. These were seen through more funding granted for research as well as budgeting more money and funds. Governments also reconstituted gradually mental health establishments so that patients could recover in a more dignified

Malta has since also progressed immensely in this sector, providing numerous services and helplines allowing anyone to make use of them.

Some excellent representations include:

  • Richmond Foundation
  • Victim Support Malta
  • SOAR Malta ( support towards domestic violence)
  • Kellimni. Com
  • Betapsi Malta ( The University Psychology Student Association)
  • Mount Carmel Hospital

Thus, as a society we can continue to build on our past generations and sustain the mental health community by truly allowing mental health to be part of our lives and further work on making it a less denounced topic. It is us who should sometimes be the voice of people that are struggling and to periodically remind them that yes, there is hope left regardless of the situation.