Historically, mental illnesses have had three primary reasons, namely, biological, supernatural and social models. For most of recorded history, mental illness was thought to be a manifestation of the struggle between good and evil and the consequences thereof. Since mental illness is a subjective condition and often difficult to prove, explanations for its causes have been numerous over time. From an evolutionary standpoint, the idea that human beings were born with psychic ability may have been one of the first explanations for the origin of mental illnesses.
Throughout history, mental illnesses have been treated with drugs and by psychotherapists. In some instances, these conditions have been cured with simple exercises and lifestyle changes. In other instances, mental illnesses have been treated with powerful chemicals such as cyanide. The history of mental health has also included treatments for more serious disorders such as schizophrenia and psychoses. Modern medicine has developed many ways to treat minor mental illnesses that can still result in discomfort or disability. Some of the most common modern medicine treatments for milder mental illnesses include psychotherapy, medication, herbal remedies, and relaxation techniques.
The first major intervention in the history of mental health concerns was the introduction of electricity into hospitals in the United Kingdom and the United States during the 1870s. Electric shock therapy was a popular treatment for physical and mental ill health problems for several years. Despite the advances made in modern medicine, electric shock therapy remains popular among some patients who would prefer a more traditional medical approach. An interesting side effect of electric shock therapy is that it can actually breed creativity in people, as some patients take on an artistic sense after being shocked.
Two other concepts that have had an impact on mental health over time are the need to motivate individuals and the need to drive change. Motivation refers to the ability to get things done when you don’t have enough energy to do so. For example, if you’re tired and don’t feel like going to work anymore, you can find other things that will energize you and make it through your day. In terms of the need to drive change, this refers to the need to take charge of one’s own mental health and well-being and make positive changes for the better.
Hysteria has a long history of affecting women in societies all over the world. It was common for women in ancient societies to suffer from hysteria, making it even more newsworthy when mental health conditions associated with hysteria began to become a matter of public discussion. In recent years, as awareness about the condition became more widespread, various theories have been put forth as to why women would develop a heightened sensitivity to common social situations where there was a great deal of danger or threat. Some of these theories, such as the notion that women were reacting to premenstrual tension, still remain popular today.
In the last decade or so, researchers have begun to look at the role that diet and nutrition play in our physical well-being. Many people have become interested in the role that their diet plays in improving their mental health and in reducing the presence or severity of certain mental health problems. A good mental health awareness week can promote awareness among Americans about the link between diet and health and mental wellness. Many states are sponsoring awareness weeks, such as the “Asian Mental Health Awareness Week” in 2021 and the “North American Nutritional Awareness Month” in the latter part of the year.
The stigma attached to mental illness in the past is slowly fading away as people begin to accept the fact that most people who have a mental illness are not bad people or somehow tainted by their own mental illness. The stigma tends to be more of a family issue, as people tend to look up to parents or siblings as role models, and siblings can have a major influence on how a person feels and behaves. As more people come to terms with the fact that they have a problem, the stigma will start to lift, but there is still work to be done.
If you or someone you know needs help with their mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out to your nearest community mental health centers or hospitals. Reach out for resources in the internet, such as message boards and forums where people discuss mental health topics. Be sure to check out the resources thoroughly before joining any online chat group or forum, and if it’s too online for you, try reaching out to your local churches and school district counselorships for their input and advice. Mental illness doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence; you deserve to live a full, productive life. Mental illness doesn’t have to take over your life; you have options.