Mental health

The term mental health encompasses the overall wellbeing of an individual including their cognitive, behavioural and emotional needs. Good mental health allows people to participate and function in daily activities, in relationships and to enjoy their physical health free from stress and other anxieties.

Recently, there has been an uptick in people experiencing adverse mental health, with COVID-19 linked to increased feelings of anxiety, depression and social isolation.

Recognising and seeking help for mental health conditions

Mental health conditions range from mild to severe. People may experience stress, anxiety, depression, have suicidal thoughts or be diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Some people may be genetically predisposed to developing a mental health condition, while others experience issues after being diagnosed with a life-changing health problem such as cancer.

People who may be at greater risk of developing mental health conditions include:

  • young people (adolescence to early 20s) – more than 40% of Year 12 students report feeling anxious and depressed
  • older adults – factors such as hearing loss may cause older people to feel isolated, anxious and depressed
  • key groups of people who experience cultural, economic and social factors, including feeling marginalised – these factors may cause and exacerbate mental health conditions.

Different treatments work for different people. Psychological and psychiatric interventions include cognitive and behavioural therapy and drug therapy.

Research has shown that better access to healthcare services and health infrastructure and education, meaningful engagement with key communities and clear articulation of the value of health interventions can lead to improved health outcomes.

Researchers are also focusing on early detection, understanding mental health conditions on a molecular level, tailoring evidence-based programs to provide the best outcome for people, making treatments easily accessible and embracing new digital interventions to slow the onset and burden of mental health on populations.

Image caption: Understanding the complexities of the human brain.

Image credit: Shutterstock

The institutes listed below are currently researching Mental health, and more information about their discoveries can be found by visiting their websites.
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