Treating mental health problems is needed now more than ever. Ever since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic less than a year ago, the World Health Organization has been concerned with the effects it has on the mental health of vulnerable sectors such as the elderly, the young, and those who have pre-existing conditions.
With the economic and lifestyle disruptions it has brought about, the pandemic has underscored the need to address rising anxieties and, more so, helping people cope with the disruption.
In the middle of these current realities, psychiatry will play a significant role in preventive mental health in the midst of all this uncertainty.
What is Preventive Mental Health?
From the term itself, preventive mental health deals with reducing patients’ exposure to mental health risks, detecting the presence of underlying conditions that would cause mental impairments, and highlighting the community’s role in providing support to vulnerable individuals.
Wagenfield (1972) noted the importance of providing primary care that centers on reducing certain risk factors in the environment. The community plays a vital role in either shaping or preventing the onset of mental illness. Social, economic, and cultural factors as well as personal experiences with abuse, neglect, and discrimination all present risk factors to vulnerable individuals.
Reducing the influence of these situations can be difficult since preventing mental illness involves transforming the environment where the individual lives. Nonetheless, mental health professionals and community stakeholders should continue to work together in raising awareness on mental health, strengthening the delivery of preventive care, and developing reliable and cost-effective tools to screen at-risk individuals (Arango, Diaz-Caneja, et al., 2018).
Preventive mental health, therefore, involves a blending of psychiatric practices with sociological and anthropological methods that can help understand how certain trends and experiences result in an uptick of mental health cases. Moreover, it emphasizes the need for a more personalized approach when screening and treating patients who are at risk of more severe mental illness.
Sure enough, discussing the importance of preventive mental health is crucial in this time of pandemic in which widespread social and economic disruptions are expected to take their toll.
Preventive mental health in the context of Covid-19
How will psychiatrists and community stakeholders address the pandemic’s impact on mental health?
Given the fact that the community has a vital role to play in preventing mental illnesses, professionals can only do so much in transforming the immediate environment.
At this moment, the best approach would be to deliver interventions straight to at-risk individuals. With social distancing still in place, psychiatric clinics can provide consultations and diagnose patients through telepsychiatry.
In addition, it is necessary to empower patients in developing self-care routines and reaching out to other individuals who need emotional support through this difficult time.
With that being said, a preventive approach to mental health should involve the use of new technology and the delivery of personalized services that can help patients cope with the pandemic challenges in a positive way.
For that matter, MidCities Psychiatry is well-equipped to deliver tailored interventions to people who are more vulnerable than anyone else to the pandemic’s psychological and social effects.
If you want to learn more about how we can help with preventive mental health, give us a call at (817) 488-8998.
Arango, C., Díaz-Caneja, C. M., McGorry, P. D., Rapoport, J., Sommer, I. E., Vorstman, J. A., … Carpenter, W. (2018). Preventive strategies for mental health. The Lancet Psychiatry, 5(7), 591–604. doi:10.1016/s2215-0366(18)30057-9
Wagenfeld, M. O. (1972). The Primary Prevention of Mental Illness: A Sociological Perspective. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 13(2), 195. doi:10.2307/2136901