The WHO (2010) 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. ” In layman’s term, it is how a person thinks, feels, and acts while coping with life. Thus, mental health affects how an individual makes choices, handles stress, or relates to other people.
It is essential as physical health. In fact, mental health and physical health goes hand and hand. This goes with the line sound mind, sound body – without a healthy mental health, there would be no healthy physical body. Take for example; it is normal for a person to feel anxious, stressed, sad, or worried sometimes. However, if such feelings do not go away and interferes with the day to day activities of the person, it suggests a mental health problem.
With this situation, it will be hard to work and hold a job, meet and keep friends, and of course, enjoy life. With this, the Alma Ata declaration on primary health care was implemented worldwide recognizing that “mental and social wellbeing is a core component of health and the delivery of mental health care is an essential component of any primary care system” (Te Pou, 2010).
Mental health problems can be manifested in behaviors as seen in people who are obsessed in washing their hands or those who drink too much alcohol, feelings such as observed in people who suffer prolonged and deep sadness and who are extremely euphoric or dysphonic, unusual thoughts as manifested by people with suicidal thoughts, and physical signs and symptoms like uncontrolled rapid breathing, palpitations, nausea and vomiting (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2009). Most of the time, signs and symptoms of mental health problem are asymptomatic, or it is hard to identify any of its manifestations; only in its severe stage when these can be noted.
Anyone is prone to suffer from a mental health problem. However, there are risk factors for mental health problems. One risk factor is the gender and genetics. Women are more at risk than men (Dotinga, 2010; Holmes, 2006). Compared to men, women undergoes a lot of stressful processes such as menstruation, pregnancy, giving birth, lactating, working, menopause, to name a few (Dowling, 2010; Watkins, 2007). Children and adolescents are also a fragile group for mental health (National Institute of Mental Health, 2010). These groups are prone to depression, substance abuse, sexual abuse and suicide (Schimelpfening, 2009)
Further, people who have relatives with mental health disorder are also at risk of suffering from mental health problems (Preidt, 2010; Prime Time Russia, 2008). If not diagnosed, prevented, managed or treated early, complications may occur and total and irreversible mental illness may occur. When this happens, implosion (self-harm) or explosion (harms others) may happen. Death is also a most possible result of untreated or unmanaged mental health problem. In this view, it is indeed very important to have functional primary mental health care facilities where people can immediately seek for assistance.
Primary mental health care Primary health care as a whole, according to Alma Ata Conference as cited by nursingcrib. com (2009), is an essential health care that is “based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally. ” Such health care should be “accessible to individuals and families in the community by means of acceptable to them, through their full participation and at a cost that community and country can afford to maintain at every stage of their development in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination.
” Thus, primary mental health care is a client-driven, practical, socially accepted yet scientifically proven care. Te Pou (2010) has a more technical definition of primary mental health. According to it, it is “the assessment, treatment and, when needed, the ongoing management of people with mental health and/or addiction issues in the primary care setting. ” Effective and efficient delivery of mental health in the primary setting is necessary and very timely. Why is this so?
A study of the WHO concludes that mental health problems are now recognized a major public health issue, making up “five of the ten leading causes of disability with some 40 per cent of all physical and mental disability due to mental illness” and that, “rates of mental illness continuing to increase internationally” (Te Pou, 2010). Since mental and social wellbeing is a foundation factor of health and the delivery of mental health care is a necessary component of any primary care system, promotion, prevention, early intervention and ongoing treatment for mental health issues should be well considered (Te Pou, 2010).