Written By: Etiam Lorlor Dei
“What is madness? Who can be referred to as a mad person? What are the characteristics of mad people?” If you have ever had or thought of such questions, this article is for you!
Madness is a layman’s term for schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a group of disorders characterized by severely impaired cognitive processes, personality disintegration, affective disturbances, and social withdrawal. The term was coined and can be identified by mental health professionals.
Being mentally ill does not mean you are mad. Mental health problems cover a wide spectrum of illnesses and disorders such as stress, depression, bipolar disorder, the autism spectrum, to mention a few. Even though science, through psychiatry & psychology, has failed to explain quite a number of the symptoms that manifest in some psychotic disorders, there are still strides being made in managing such symptoms to make life more bearable for people who live with disorders.
Even though professionals and specialists in the various mental health fields would be wrong to say they have everything down pat, there have been major advancements over the past 100 years, through research and ever-evolving-technology. As such, discoveries are being made on almost a daily basis in the field of mental health.
It’s important to note that many of the mental illnesses have underlying physiological factors. Hearing voices or feeling suicidal does not mean that you are mad or crazy. It just shows signs of illness, or indicates a mental malfunction, just as you would suffer from a headache and decide to seek medical help or take a painkiller. In the same way you can seek for psychological help when you hear voices or are feeling suicidal, as there are treatments and medications that work effectively in dealing with that form of mental illness. Being mentally ill or knowing people who are mentally ill is nothing to be ashamed of.
Mental health and wellbeing is a precarious balance of physical health, environmental factors such as stressors and biological predictors and a plethora of many other combinations. In spite of the passing of the Mental Health Act 2012, progress in mental health care in Ghana has been negligible at worst and minimal at best.
As a country, Ghana has a long way to go in our journey towards reaching optimal mental health care. Let’s all make a conscious effort to pay as much attention to our mental health as we do to our physical health. The best bet in maintaining optimal mental health is for one to keep healthy physically and emotionally. Most importantly, visit a mental health professional for regular check-ups.
Remember – being mentally ill is not equivalent to madness. Stay mentally healthy.