How to Treat People with Mental Health Issues?
Misunderstandings, superficial knowledge, superstitions, and unscientific therapies have made the treatment of mental health issues more complex. Patients are being made guinea pigs because of their wrongdoings by both quacks and qualified mental health professionals. In view of a few exploitations in the mental health services sector that were brought to light recently, I would like to address a few general aspects in this blog post.
Mental health issues are bodily diseases that adversely affect the thinking, behaviour, and emotional status of a person. However, the belief that physical and mental health issues are totally different is deeply ingrained in our minds. We are so used to using words such as "mad," "crazy," and "mental patient" when making fun of people, discriminating against them, etc. Therefore, the need of the hour is to develop social awareness that enables us to avoid the usage of such derogatory words and interact with others without any discrimination. This is because the societies in which we all live have wrong notions about the mental health conditions that affect a person's thought process and behaviour. And even today, we brand a person who suffers from a mental condition as "mad." That is why research into how to communicate humanely when discussing a disease that has a negative impact on an individual's nature is an important part of the modern social perspective.
Mental health service providers are generally portrayed as divinely solitary people and lonely intellectuals who are capable of uncovering the secrets of the mind. A few service providers conduct business by making tall claims and presentations to establish their authenticity. Their approach is no different from that of sorcerers and other humans who claim to have divine powers. As a result, mental health patients seeking treatment often fall prey to fraud and exploitation because of their inability to control their internal conflicts and difficulty in identifying rational solutions. However, a clear understanding of the prescribed code of conduct for the professionals who provide mental health services and their own rights helps patients prevent exploitation.
Today, effective treatments are available for people who experience mental health problems. Medications are helpful in improving the levels and functioning of various brain chemicals and relieving the symptoms of mental health issues. However, it is not possible to maintain mental health through medications alone. The best option, therefore, is to adopt an approach that focuses on patients and their situations and environments. People are linked together by different strings. The social, economic, cultural, financial, and political situations of the place where they live have an impact on their mental makeup. As such, an approach that considers a patient as an individual takes into account his or her unique environment and the strings that link them with others, and goes down to the social level is the best way to treat mental health issues.
The social stigma associated with undergoing treatment for diseases that affect an individual’s behaviour deters people from availing mental health services. Furthermore, the technical terms used for describing the mental conflicts that people experience and the therapies employed for treating them often increase the complexity of even simple aspects. That’s why social acceptance is very important for the mental health services sector. Besides, it is of the utmost importance that service providers such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers co-operate with each other when providing treatment. Psychiatrists prescribe medications, and social workers offer support by understanding the patients’ social and family situations. Psychologists, on the other hand, provide behavioural therapies, which do not involve the use of any medication. This is to say that the solutions that can be recommended currently for those experiencing mental conflicts are medications and therapies. However, most people who experience mental conflicts resort to different faith-based healing options. Moreover, when a few of them come to mental health service providers, what matters is whether they are following scientifically correct procedures to treat their patients.
The assessment of the mental health of a person with character and behavioural problems can only be done by talking extensively with him or her, family members, and colleagues. Mental health professionals can recommend scientific solutions only after assessing the following aspects related to a patient:
• Changes in behaviour and appearance
• Interaction with others
• Distorted thoughts or delusions
• Ability to express emotions relevant to different situations
• Common sense
• Sense of caution
• Awareness about where he/she is, time, society, and self
What information should patients and family members share with mental health specialists?
A patient and his or her family members must share the following information with the mental health specialists who are providing treatment for them:
• Unique characteristics
• A history of his or her previous ailments
• Family history of mental health problems
• Treatments provided in the past
• Important signs and symptoms
• Changes in behaviour
• Workplace details
Solutions may not be available for all the problems in life. However, patients expect mental health service providers to be objective in their approach. This means mental specialists should not have any biases and be fully transparent when providing treatment. Modern society expects mental health professionals to have a critical mind, but they should be capable of providing their views without any kind of discrimination or bias based on caste, religion, locality, or personal beliefs.
On their part, mental health service providers should not scorn the common man’s reliance on harmless beliefs, rites, and rituals to overcome problems. However, they should oppose the harmful practices of society.
An adult has the freedom to decide how he or she wants to take care of their body. They are also free to choose the type of medical treatment to help maintain their health. It is impossible to subject an individual to any kind of therapy. Furthermore, it is not right to impose a treatment option that is not preferred by the patient.
However, obtaining consent is not applicable in the case of children or those who are mentally retarded or out of their senses. In such cases, their parents or relatives have to take decisions regarding any treatment.
Furthermore, it is important that the specialist treating them explains the basic aspects related to the mental discomfort they are experiencing.
Besides, labelling rebels, people who don’t go by the rigid social norms, as mental patients and forcibly subjecting them to treatment amounts to a violation of human rights.
Mental health service providers and those who support them should maintain a high level of confidentiality and keep the information related to patients safe and secure. They should never intrude into the private life of a patient. Moreover, they should take the preferences of patients into account when deciding on a treatment plan.
Service providers are not required to do any physical examination. They should also refrain from embracing or touching patients who have come for treatment.
Service providers should treat those who exhibit different personality traits and do not conform to commonly accepted norms with a great deal of tolerance. They should not be treated as mad people and ridiculed.
They should not disrespect their freedom to subscribe to different beliefs and values. Moreover, they should neither interfere with the rights of their patients nor make any negative remarks about them.