World Mental Health Day
On October 10, Mental Health Day is observed around the globe and its importance is especially recognized during the Covid-19 pandemic period, when stress, anxiety and distress is on the rise, and many seek emotional relief
Prof. Tuvia Peri, Director of the Community Clinic and the Danieli Clinic for Trauma and Loss at Bar-Ilan University’s Department of Psychology, writes about World Mental Health Day, which is marked on October 10.
In the 1960s, a large, gray, menacing building, dubbed the “Geha Madhouse”, was situated at what is now the Geha Interchange near Petach Tikva. Today, the practice of incarcerating people for years in institutions is almost non-existent, however the stigma of mental illness is still keenly felt by many people confronting mental illness in contemporary times. These people and their families sometimes feel forced to conceal their illness and, unlike those suffering from physical diseases, do not receive the medical and social treatment that they require.
Nearly half of the Israeli population suffers at some point in their lives from mental health issues. Anxiety disorders are the most common (about 28%), followed by depression (about 20%). According to data from the Israel Ministry of Health, approximately 250,000 people in Israel currently require psychiatric treatment, and many other patients receive various psychological treatments. Mental illness is responsible for the deaths of some eight million people worldwide each year.
The mortality rate for those suffering from mental illness is more than twice as high as the rate among the general population, and their life expectancy is ten years shorter than the life expectancy among the general population. The economic cost of mental illness worldwide is higher than that of any other disease group, including cancer, heart disease or diabetes.
Research in recent decades has clearly shown that mental illness has a significant biological component, but also life events and living conditions in a person’s early years contribute significantly to their development. The likelihood that an identical twin brother of a patient with schizophrenia or depression will develop the disease is high. However, a person whose parents are mentally impaired and who was adopted and raised in a healthy family, is more likely to be healthy than if he grew up in a mentally unstable family.
Difficult life events can trigger the development of severe disorders. Disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder or complex mourning syndrome can also occur among people who have been completely healthy before.
Innovative drug therapies coupled with advanced and research-based psychological therapies greatly improve the chances of the mentally ill to live a productive and enjoyable life today.
World Mental Health Day plays an extremely important role in raising awareness of the suffering of the mentally ill and the huge economic cost for the state, while also highlighting the modern treatment and rehabilitation options available today.