There is no health without mental health.
Dr. Michele Riba, professor of psychiatry, University of Michigan
The World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) sponsors World Mental Health Day each October. Its mission over the past 62 years has been to increase awareness about mental health issues, and its agenda is summarized in what they call the Great Push for unity, visibility, rights and recovery.
This year they are specifically dedicating the day to mental health and chronic physical illness, and the need to continue to integrate the care of both.
There is good reason. Worldwide, noncommunicable chronic diseases are the leading causes of death. Dr. Gouden Galae, coordinator of health promotions for the World Health Organization, notes that heart disease, diabetes, cancer and lung disease are responsible for 60 percent of deaths worldwide and 80 percent among the world’s poorest people. It is also estimated by 2020 that obesity will be the No. 1 cause of death worldwide.
Prevention and management of these noncommunicable diseases affects both mortality rates and quality of life. The financial burden is enormous — to governments, the health care industry, and families — and sufferers’ ability to cope is affected by these diseases’ emotional impact. Kathryn Powers, director of the Center for Mental Health Service, U.S. Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, declared: “We know that many individuals with chronic medical conditions have untreated, co-morbid mental illnesses or substance use disorders, and this can complicate the recovery from both conditions.”
Between 25 and 33 percent of people with these chronic medical conditions also struggle with depression. Whenever something happens that we feel we do not have control over, depression — a sense of helplessness — is a possibility. A vicious cycle begins as depression weakens the resolve for coping with physical symptoms. In turn, this creates a greater sense of despair. In fact, depression can triple the risk of nonadherence to medical treatment.
What can be done?
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