Preventing Mental Disorders

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson goes over some of the many possible causes of mental disorders and some of the ways they can be prevented. Covered topics include the loss of family, friends, social isolation, and drug abuse.

What Is a Mental Disorder?

People with a mental disorder may have any combination of issues affecting how they think, behave, or what mood they are in. Importantly, such issues can significantly affect their quality of life in their personal lives, social circles, at work, or in school. Examples of mental disorders or mental illnesses include depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and many others.

Not all mental disorders can be prevented, and there is no magic bullet for even those that may have a chance of being prevented. However, there are some things you can do to minimize the chances that some mental disorders will either occur or progress in a significant way.

Recognize

One of the most important things you can do to help prevent some mental disorder from occurring in the first place is recognize the situation you are in, one that can lead to a mental illness. For example, let's take the case of Bob. Bob is a CEO at a really famous company. Bob's barely has any hobbies because his life revolves around his company, his wife, and his kids.

Then, one day, a financial crisis hits the country, and Bob is out of a job. To make things worse, Bob's wife divorces him, and he loses custody of his children. All this, in a span of just a few months. You can reasonably understand that any one of these three scenarios would cause Bob, and ultimately most other people, a great deal of stress. His sleep habits may change, his eating habits can change, and he may begin contemplating suicide. Thus, recognizing that you are in a stressful life situation through signs such as those, and seeking professional medical and mental health care when they occur is important.

But Bob isn't the only one who needs to recognize that he may need to take early action and recognize he is in a situation that can lead to a mental disorder. Take Mary, for example. Mary just came back from a warzone where she served in the military. She saw many of her military colleagues die, and she almost died as well. Traumatic experiences like this can lead to a mental disorder. Mary, as well as her supervisors in the military, must recognize that even if Mary isn't showing any signs of stress, she may simply be hiding it. Or, if she's not hiding it, various issues may creep up later as a result of the experience that she's not even cognizant of yet. In other words, it's important that others recognize that a person may need help in the future even if nothing obvious points to the need for help right now. These supportive people can recommend or refer Mary to a specialist who can help her. In some cases, organizations may even mandate a mental health screening after a traumatic event in order to ensure any mental disorder is caught early or prevented outright.

Learn

Besides recognizing that you are under a great deal of stress, pain, or anxiety, it helps to learn what other situations can lead to a mental disorder. Things you need to look out for (for your sake and that of others) besides the loss of family, friends, a job, or a traumatic experience include:

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