“Health is defined as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely an absence of disease or infirmity” by World Health Organization (WHO). To improve health, the promotion of health, prevention of disease, impairment, and disability, and the treatment of disease are required. However, the values of mental health promotion and illness prevention have been underappreciated more than those of physical health to date. This is in line with the fact that research on mental health has been weighted heavily on psychopathologies and mental illnesses rather than well-being or optimal functioning. Although strategies separate from treatment are needed for mental health promotion and prevention of mental illnesses, psychiatrists are not usually accustomed to these concepts and approaches.” (Read more here)
As a culture we are obsessed with getting physically healthy. We go to the gym, jog, cycle and engage in friendly or fierce competition all for the sake of maintaining an optimum level of physical health.
To enhance these efforts we also try to maintain a healthy diet. We gobble down vitamins, supplements, prebiotics and herbs that have been shown to provide health benefits.
At the same time we try to avoid fatty and over processed foods, sugary drinks, too much alcohol, salt and a host of other products that are considered to be unhealthy.
We also try to avoid stress by practicing yoga, meditating, getting enough sleep and taking time out of our busy schedules to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends and other simple pleasures of life.
No one thinks twice about going to the gym to exercise in order to improve their physical health. Why don’t we do something similar for our mental health?
So Why Don’t We Train For Mental Wellness?
Mental health is as important – some would argue it is more important – as physical health. Despite this we don’t exercise our minds in a way that develops a healthy mental lifestyle.
Part of the reason for this is the lack of programs that can be accessed to accomplish this. Physical exercise, relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga and other similar practices can aid in the maintenance of good mental health. We have long known of the relationship between these activities and a healthy mind. But what about training programs developed specifically to strengthen our mental health?
In a 2004 report by the World Health Organization which reviewed rates of psychiatric treatment usage across 37 research studies it was found that between 30 and 80 percent of people with mental health concerns never receive treatment.
This fact should drive home the importance of prevention as a primary means of addressing the current mental health crisis we are facing. How else can we address illnesses that people cannot, or will not, seek treatment for?
Prevention as it relates to mental health aims to reduce the incidence, prevalence, and recurrence of mental health disorders and their associated disability. Preventive interventions are based on modifying risk exposure and strengthening the coping mechanisms of the individual. (Read more here)
The Missing Piece Of The Puzzle
Obviously there must be reasons why few programs designed to prevent mental illness exist. These include:
- The lack of awareness of the existence and effectiveness of prevention programs
- Stigma – which creates embarrassment or shame of the symptoms surrounding mental illness – because our society places illogical taboos on mental health issues that don’t exist for physical conditions. Contrary to popular misconceptions, mental illness is the result of neurobiology and psychological influences, and does not indicate a weakness in character.
- Access to such programs both physical, online and others
- Privacy concerns which relate directly to the stigma attached to mental illness
- Cost (which is unfortunate because it is a well proven fact that the most efficient, and cost effective, means of treating any kind of illness is to prevent it in the first place)
- Perceived time commitment required
- Denial – many people have a belief that they are somehow immune to mental illnesses so they see no need to take proactive measures to prevent them from occurring.
- Fear that accessing a program with the specific goal of preventing mental illness could negatively impact ones career, education, or other life goals.
- The erroneous belief that programs intended to prevent mental illness are not effective
CognImmune is committed to developing effective and accessible mental illness prevention programs. If you have explored this website you will already know about the research and strategic thinking that has led to this commitment. If you haven’t read about how we arrived at this conclusion you can find a brief overview by clicking here.
These CognImmune mental illness prevention programs are being developed in accordance with the following guidelines:
- The programs will be widely available utilizing online access
- They are cost effective. (The hope is that they will be provided by employers who stand to realize significant cost savings by reducing the absenteeism and reduced productivity caused by mental illness and/or insurance providers who could reduce the disability costs associated with clients suffering these illnesses.)
- Privacy of all participants is a key driver in the development and implementation of all programs
- Minimal but consistent time requirements for participants
- Ease of use
- If you believe there are other guidelines that should be included here we invite you to contact us in order to share them. We always welcome the insights of our visitors.
Treatment solutions for mental illness, like many other illnesses, can be difficult to find and access. They can be expensive and they are often time consuming. Their effectiveness can vary according to the individuals receiving treatment and the practitioners and facilities providing it.
Is it any wonder that prevention is so often the preferred method of addressing most illnesses? And why should mental illness be any different? This is, indeed, the missing piece of the puzzle.
The immediate and long term goals of CognImmune are the creation and deployment of programs that will remedy this gap in the health care system. It is our sincere hope that, like us, you believe that this is a strategy whose time has come.