Mental health walks hand in hand with your ability to enjoy life to the fullest. Often, being mentally healthy refers to living without a mental disorder. Mental disorders are a big issue that needs to be addressed. Be it anxiety, or depression; mental illness is a reality that many like to deny — especially when it comes to their own selves. However, mental disorders are real; and it’s important that people undergo some form of therapy to keep themselves well balanced.
Here in Ghana, the statistics according to the WHO (World Health Organization) estimate that 650,000 members of the population suffer from a severe mental disorder, with a further 2,166, 000 suffering from a moderate to mild mental disorder. While this might not seem to alarm you, just keep in mind that these figures only represent the number of cases that have been brought forward so far.
It is not a scary or dire situation, however. Mental health issues, just like every other problem known to humans, can be effectively managed with proper guidance, therapy, and (or) counselling. While the first step towards maintaining one’s mental health depends on the individual’s desire and some lifestyle changes, attending therapy, or contracting the services of trained and certified therapists goes a long way to keep one of a healthy path.
The role of therapy in mental health
Therapy may take two forms: mental health counselling, and occupational therapy. Here’s how it breaks down.
Mental Health Counselling
Counselling helps individuals, as well as their families, deal with trauma, difficult emotions, and other forms that mental health disorders may take. Professionals who work in this field provide therapy and coaching in order to help patients manage their stress. Therapy sessions may sometimes focus on recovery or on better management of conditions, such as redirecting disturbing emotions and modifying their behaviors in order to achieve better results.
Such a counselor treats patients with a wide range of mental issues ranging from anxiety and depression, to anger management issues, as well as eating disorders. People dealing with post-traumatic stress issues, for example, domestic abuse victims, or even the abuser will need treatment from such a professional or may be refer to a mental health rehab facility. Also, people who are suffering from poor self-esteem can be attended to by a mental health counselor.
Occupational therapy takes the form of everyday life activities being used in a therapeutic way to enhance or enable the patient’s participation in roles and routines. Such roles may be at home, school, or the workplace, within the community, and other appropriate settings either as an individual or in groups.
What this means basically is that Occupational Therapists would help their patients find joy by getting them involved more in the everyday things that give them a sense of purpose and belonging.
In mental health settings, the work of Occupational Therapists focuses on helping individuals re-engage in meaningful occupations through skills development, establishing positive habits and routines, and setting therapy goals, etc. A lot of this is based on understanding underlying physiological influences.
For example, in a child and adolescent mental health setting where the individuals may be isolating themselves, getting to the underlying physiological influences would help patients in identifying and utilizing self-regulation strategies so as to enable them return to participating in meaningful activities regarding going to school, associating with friends, and also participating in family-related activities.
Occupational therapy is great for mental health as it encourages engagement and meaningful activity. It is a collaboration between the patient and therapist who serves as a guide as the patient strives to live as independently as can be possible.
It is every individual’s desire to live life to the fullest. But that will be impossible when mental disorders or illness sets in. The importance of therapy to a healthy mind cannot be overemphasized. From a light workout at the gym, to a fun outing with close friends, or a counselling session with a professional; things that free your mind from the weight of everyday pressures can go a long way in ensuring that you’re mostly happy and looking forward to each new day.