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  • 1. What are the different types of mental healthcare professionals?
    Psychiatrists Psychologists Counsellors Social workers Nurses. All work to complement each other in the delivery of mental health care.
  • 2. What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
    A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has had special training in mental health, in particular, how the brain works in health and disease. They are qualified and registered to prescribe medication in suitable cases. On the other hand, a Psychologist is a mental health expert with special skills and training on how the human mind functions. They do not prescribe medication but are an expert in other aspects of treatment such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), individual and family therapy, among others. The two often work together in the management of patients.
  • 3. What does mental health mean?
    The World Health Organisation (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”. This definition correctly emphasizes the fact that mental health is not simply the absence of disease in that it includes the ability to realise one’s full potential.
  • 4. What does it mean to have a mental health disorder?
    Human beings are said to suffer from a Mental Health disorder when they show symptoms that are recognisable as arising from a malfunction of the mind. Some mental disorders are severe and last for a long time while most are mild and easily treated. The most common disorders include depression, anxiety and phobias. Their symptoms include: lack of sleep (insomnia), undue tiredness, tearfulness as well as feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  • 5. How do I know I have a problem?
    Feeling stressed and a lack of sleep can be an early sign that all is not well. However there are times where one has to be told by others that his behaviour requires treatment. In many cases, the onset of the illness is gradual. In others, a traumatic event such as bereavement or even child birth may be the precipitant. Common Mental Disorders (CMD) include depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Schizophrenia and Bipolar Mood Disorder. Common symptoms include low moods, loss of enjoyment of life, lack of sleep, crying, poor concentration, poor (or increased) appetite and irritability. If you experience any of the above, then you might have an illness.
  • 6. How do I know if the people around me have a problem?
    If a person around you has any symptoms referred to in number 5, then it is possible they might have one of the Mental Disorders. In many cases one has to seek the opinion of a family member to be sure that a recent change in behaviour is or is not an indication of a mental illness. If not sure, consult a mental health expert.
  • 7. How can I approach a person who needs medical treatment?
    It is sometimes difficult to approach a person who has a mental health need. In many cases, the person with a mental illness is not aware that he has an illness because he does not feel any pain. The other reason is because mental illnesses have over the years been subject to much stigma. A great deal of tact, diplomacy and skill are demanded of you. Most of all is an approach that conveys love and respect for the person in need. An attitude that suggests that the person is somehow at fault, is weak or is in some other way to blame is wrong and bound to fail.
  • 8. What are common myths about mental illness?
    That mental illness is uncommon. That mental illness is untreatable. That all mental illnesses are self imposed and affect lazy or careless people. The reality is that mental illness is common, treatable and affects all human beings equally.
  • 9. What types of treatments are available?
    Depending on the condition, many treatments are available. For some, medication works very well, for others psychotherapy is best. For most, a combination of medication and a form of talk therapy work best. Some will require hospitalisation for a short time. For those addicted to drugs or alcohol, a period of rehabilitation may be advised. In all cases the expert will first make an evaluation and then discuss the available options with the patient and the family if appropriate.
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