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Unit 12: Understand Mental Ill Health

Level: Level 3 Diploma

1.1 Describe the following types of mental ill health according to the psychiatric (DSM/ICD) classification system:

a. Mood disorders

Mood disorders are a group of mental health conditions that involve changes in an individual’s overall emotional state. They can cause disruptions in daily life and affect an individual’s ability to function. Examples of mood disorders include depression, bipolar disorder, and dysthymic disorder. Depression is characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and lack of interest or pleasure in activities. Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme changes in mood, energy, and behaviour, including periods of high energy (mania) and low energy (depression). Dysthymic disorder is a less severe form of depression that involves persistent, low-level symptoms that last for at least two years.

b. Personality disorders

Personality disorders are mental health conditions that are known by persistent patterns of thought, behaviour, and emotion that differ significantly from what is considered normal within a person’s culture. The DSM-5 classifies personality disorders into three clusters based on symptoms or behaviours associated with each condition. These include Cluster A (eccentric behaviour), Cluster B (dramatic or erratic behaviour), and Cluster C (anxious or fearful behaviour). Examples of personality disorders include paranoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.

c. Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are denoted by intense fear or excessive worry accompanied by physical symptoms such as a racing heart rate or trembling hands. These disorders can interfere with an individual’s daily activities for months at a time. Examples of anxiety disorders include panic disorder, phobias, and social anxiety disorder. Panic disorder involves sudden and intense episodes of fear or panic that can come on suddenly and without warning. Phobias are intense fears of specific objects or situations. Social anxiety disorder is characterised by extreme fear or anxiety in social situations.

d. Psychotic disorders

Psychotic disorders are mental illnesses that involve distorted thinking processes, which can make it difficult for an individual to understand reality. Examples of psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, brief psychotic disorder, and delusional disorder. Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health condition characterised by delusions, hallucinations, and disorganised thinking. Schizoaffective disorder is a mental illness that involves symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Brief psychotic disorder involves the sudden onset of psychotic symptoms that last for less than a month. Delusional disorder is characterised by persistent, fixed beliefs that are not based on reality.

e. Substance-related disorders

Substance-related disorders are mental health conditions that are caused by the excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs. They can lead to substance use disorders (SUDs), which are characterised by an inability to control the use of a substance and negative consequences as a result of that use. Examples of substance-related disorders include alcohol use disorder, drug addiction, and nicotine addiction.

f. Eating disorders

Eating disorders are serious psychological disturbances related to the way food is consumed. They can involve a range of behaviours, including restricting food intake, binge eating, and purging. Examples of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa is characterised by a fear of gaining weight and an obsessive focus on body weight and shape. Bulimia nervosa is characterised by binge eating followed by compensatory behaviours such as purging or over-exercising. Binge eating disorder is characterised by frequent episodes of binge eating without the use of compensatory behaviours.

g. Cognitive disorders

Cognitive disorders are a group of neurological conditions that affect an individual’s ability to think and remember events or facts accurately. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including brain injury, degenerative brain diseases, and substance abuse. Examples of cognitive disorders include dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and vascular dementia. Dementia is a progressive decline in cognitive function that affects memory, language, and problem-solving skills. TBI is an injury to the brain that can cause physical and cognitive impairments. Vascular dementia is a type of dementia that occurs when there is a reduction in blood flow to the brain, which can lead to brain damage.

1.2 Explain the key strengths and limitations of the psychiatric classification system

he psychiatric classification system, specifically the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) and the ICD (International Classification of Diseases), is a system used by mental health professionals to diagnose and classify mental health conditions.

One of the key strengths of the psychiatric classification system is that it provides a standardised framework for diagnosis and treatment. It allows mental health professionals to communicate effectively with each other and to provide consistent care to their clients. The classification system also helps to identify the specific symptoms and characteristics of different mental health conditions, which can be helpful in determining the most appropriate treatment plan.

However, there are also some limitations to the psychiatric classification system. One limitation is that it is based on a biomedical model of mental illness, which suggests that mental health conditions are caused by biological or genetic factors. This model may not take into account the potential social, environmental, and psychological factors that may contribute to mental health conditions. Additionally, the classification system is based on a checklist of symptoms, which may not capture the full range of experiences and emotions that individuals with mental health conditions may have.

Another limitation of the psychiatric classification system is that it is constantly evolving. As new research is conducted and new treatments are developed, the definitions and criteria for different mental health conditions may change. This can be confusing for both mental health professionals and individuals seeking treatment, as the classification system may not always be up-to-date with the latest research and best practices.

Finally, the psychiatric classification system may also be limited by cultural and societal biases. Different cultures may have different ways of understanding and expressing mental health conditions, and the classification system may not always be sensitive to these differences. Additionally, the classification system may be influenced by societal attitudes and stigma surrounding mental health, which can impact how mental health conditions are understood and treated.

1.3 Explain alternative frameworks for understanding mental distress

There are a variety of alternative conceptualisations of mental distress. The first is social constructionism, which contends that psychological disorders and mental illnesses are not biological phenomena but rather are socially constructed labels used to explain why some people behave in ways that are not consistent with expectations. When determining how “mental health” is understood, this approach places a significant emphasis on cultural factors like socioeconomic class, gender roles, and media representations of specific behaviours.

Trauma-informed care is the second framework. This approach recognises that being abused or neglected can have a significant effect on a person’s physical and emotional health for the rest of their lives. To help people identify sources of distress and learn coping mechanisms to manage better triggers related to previous traumatic events, this model may use a variety of techniques, such as talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or mindfulness meditation exercises.

Recovery-based services respect service users’ autonomy by working collaboratively with them to encourage self-determination so they can regain control over their own lives despite extreme symptoms from psychiatric illnesses or other disabling conditions. It furthers the argument that therapeutic relationships must include hope in order for people to feel inspired rather than paralysed by what seems impossible.

As for the fourth, the strength-based model, it is important to not only look at the problems or deficits that people with mental health issues are experiencing but also to recognise their strengths. According to this philosophy, each person is an authority in their own life. Practitioners collaborate with service users to identify their current capacities and skills that can be applied to challenging situations or symptoms they may experience.

By emphasising various aspects like cultural factors, traumatic events, personal autonomy, and strengths within individuals dealing with psychological challenges, these alternative frameworks offer fresh perspectives on understanding mental distress.

1.4 Explain indicators of mental ill health

Mental ill health, also known as mental illness or disorder, can manifest in various ways. In some cases, it can be mild and short-term, while others may have lifelong struggles that must be managed through treatment and therapy. Regardless of the severity or length of time, indicators for mental ill health include changes in behaviour, emotions and thoughts.

Behavioural signs are often some of the most noticeable symptoms of something wrong with an individual’s emotional well-being because they are outwardly displayed behaviours rather than internalised feelings. Behavioural indications range from significant changes such as aggression or self-harming to seemingly insignificant ones like avoiding eye contact during conversation or losing interest in activities once enjoyed by an individual (this could especially include hobbies). Additionally, isolation from family members and friends due to a lack of motivation for socialising is common among those suffering from depression, but it is not always immediately visible. However, behavioural clues, such as sleeping at odd hours, might indicate that something is not quite right with a loved one if other aspects of their life seem unaffected by it. This is because sleep patterns play a crucial role in impacting both physical wellness and cognitive abilities essential for day-to-day functioning, such as maintaining concentration and memory, which are typically associated with healthy sleep habits.

Emotional signs of mental ill health can range from excessive fear and anxiety to feeling hopeless and low, both chronically or as sudden bouts that cannot be explained by circumstance. This can also manifest in uncharacteristic bursts of emotion, such as anger or rage towards family members, friends or even strangers without provocation, which is not proportionate to the event unfolding; this could potentially be due to inner turmoil arising from some unresolved issue that is disrupting the individual’s peace of mind. individuals suffering from depression may have difficulty regulating their emotions- resulting in crying spells during seemingly innocuous conversations. At the same time, those dealing with anxiety might struggle when trying unfamiliar experiences (like eating new foods) because they feel they lack control over what comes next, thus leading them feeling overwhelmed, which contributes further distress in their life rather than being able to find joy within activities otherwise simple daily rituals typically bring others an abundance satisfaction on a regular basis.

Thoughts associated with mental ill health often revolve around excessive worrying about matters beyond one’s control, leading to catastrophic conclusions. A sense of guilt for no specific reason can also consume a person, causing shame and sorrow internally, where only one’s conscience remains judge and jury. However, no crime has been committed, nor punishment merited, except for falling victim to one’s mind being consumed by self-doubt. Those suffering from depression may experience low moods for no apparent reason, as well as difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks, which can affect their ability to complete daily duties in a timely manner and potentially impact work performance if the problem persists over long periods. It can also impair judgment when dealing with more severe matters, such as decision-making processes requiring analytical skills to resolve issues.

In conclusion, indicators of mental ill health can be both obvious and subtle depending on the person’s disposition and the particular disorder affecting them. Nonetheless, they should not be overlooked, as proper treatment might be needed to help individuals regain control over their thoughts, emotions, and behaviour so that they may enjoy their full potential once again without worrying about inner turmoil or obstacles preventing them from reaching their goals. Medical intervention may be necessary to help them achieve their full potential.

2.1 Explain how individuals experience discrimination

Discrimination is defined as unequal or unfair treatment of individuals or groups based on certain characteristics, such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation and disability. Individuals experience discrimination in many ways, both directly and indirectly.

Direct discrimination occurs when an individual is maltreated because of a personal characteristic such as race, gender or religion. This can include being refused a job due to their ethnicity, receiving lower pay than colleagues with the same qualifications and facing violence due to their sexual orientation. Direct discrimination can also manifest itself in microaggressions — subtle verbal expressions that are discriminatory towards minority communities but often go unnoticed by those outside them.

Indirect discrimination occurs when policies that appear neutral have a disproportionately negative impact on certain protected groups — for example requiring all applicants for a job to speak English, even if fluency isn’t essential for the role, may exclude people from non-English speaking backgrounds who would otherwise be qualified enough for it.

Individuals with mental health issues often experience discrimination in various forms, such as:

Stigma: This refers to negative attitudes and beliefs about mental health, which often lead to discrimination. People with mental health issues are often viewed as weak, unstable, or dangerous, which leads to discrimination in various forms, such as social exclusion, employment discrimination, and even abuse.

Lack of access to quality healthcare: Mental health issues are often not given the same level of importance as physical health issues, which leads to a lack of funding and resources for mental health care. This leads to a lack of access to quality healthcare and treatment options for individuals with mental health issues, which can further exacerbate their condition.

Employment discrimination: Individuals with mental health issues often face discrimination in the workplace, such as being passed over for promotions or being fired due to their condition. This can lead to financial difficulties and a lack of stability, which can further worsen their mental health.

Social exclusion: People with mental health issues may be excluded from social activities and events due to stigma and negative attitudes towards their condition. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can further worsen their mental health.

Discrimination has severe implications for the individual’s quality of life. It can lead to poor physical and mental health, social isolation, increased poverty levels, reduced job opportunities and lower wages compared to non-discriminated people. It’s, therefore, essential that individuals understand how discrimination is experienced in order for steps towards eliminating it from society to be taken.

2.2 Explain the effects mental ill health may have on an individual

Mental ill health can have a significant impact on an individual, with symptoms that range from mild to severe. It can be challenging for individuals to cope with the effects of mental ill-health, which may result in them experiencing feelings of confusion and hopelessness.

Individuals who suffer from mental health issues often experience disruptions in their daily lives and may struggle to complete activities they once found enjoyable or easy. These disruptions can include difficulties in forming relationships, problems with concentration and completing tasks at work or school, and avoiding certain situations because they feel overwhelmed or anxious. In addition, people may experience low energy levels due to a lack of motivation and difficulty sleeping, which are common signs of depression. These negative changes can significantly impact overall well-being over time if not addressed early on through professional help.

Physical impacts, such as digestive issues like nausea and vomiting, can also be a result of mental illness. Stress-related hormones released during times of mental unwellness can also contribute to the development of additional medical illnesses, like diabetes. Mental illness can also affect how the body perceives pain, making individuals more sensitive to it and leading to further exhaustion if not managed with appropriate support. Additionally, mental health issues increase the risk of substance misuse as some may try to self-medicate or numb their feelings of distress with drugs and alcohol.

As a result, those with mental health problems may feel lonely and disconnected from friends and family as they experience different aspects of life differently than those around them. This sense of disconnection can further compound the effects on an individual’s emotional state, leading to greater isolation and lack of social support, which is necessary for managing mental illness symptoms.

2.3 Explain the effects mental ill health may have on those in the individual’s familial, social or work network

Mental ill health can have significant impacts on an individual’s familial, social, and work networks. The effects of mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, vary depending on the specific condition and how it affects the individual. However, it is important to note that there may also be indirect effects caused by family members or friends attempting to help the individual cope with their illness.

When someone close is affected by mental ill health, it can lead to stress within their family in multiple ways, including tension-filled conversations about potential causes of the illness and disagreements over treatment plans. Additionally, conflicts may arise due to strained relationships within the family, which may be caused by feelings of neglect during crisis times and financial pressures from medical bills for treatment. Furthermore, communication can be impaired, leading to people withdrawing further away instead of having meaningful interactions, even though they may want to connect.

The lack of attention towards others’ well-being may also be felt at school, as children suffering from depression may perform poorly academically. They may be less likely to do their homework and struggle with focusing on tasks, which affects not only their own learning but also the learning of those around them. In terms of social networks, friends or colleagues may find it difficult to know how to respond to an individual suffering from mental health issues and may feel overwhelmed by their inability to offer proper support.

In addition, work productivity may suffer due to employees feeling unmotivated while dealing with mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. Additionally, employees may experience feelings of loneliness if their workplace is unsupportive, adding further stress instead of fostering collaboration between colleagues. These effects are adverse because people close to the individual’s family or social life may not have enough knowledge about mental illness, let alone try to help individuals affected by this type of disorder.

2.4 Explain how to intervene to promote an individual’s mental health and well-Being

There are several ways to intervene and promote an individual’s mental health and well-being:

  • Encourage self-care: Self-care involves taking care of one’s physical and emotional needs, such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation. Encouraging self-care can help an individual manage stress and improve their overall well-being.
  • Offer support and understanding: Offering emotional support and understanding to an individual can make them feel valued and less isolated. This can be done through active listening, expressing empathy, and being non-judgmental.
  • Encourage social connections: Building and maintaining social connections can provide support and a sense of belonging, which can improve mental health and well-being. Encourage the individual to reach out to friends and family, participate in social activities, and join support groups or community organisations.
  • Promote healthy coping strategies: Help the individual develop healthy coping strategies, such as talking to a friend or therapist, practising relaxation techniques, or engaging in physical activity, to manage stress and negative emotions.
  • Encourage professional help: If the individual is experiencing severe mental health issues, encourage them to seek professional help from a licensed mental health professional. This may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

It is imperative to be supportive, understanding, and non-judgmental when trying to promote an individual’s mental health and well-being. It may also be necessary to seek professional help if the individual is struggling with severe mental health issues.


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