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Updated October 13, 2020

Mental Health and the Environment

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Mental Health and the Environment essay
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Mental health problems are a prevalent disorder in the United States that continues to grow with many factors contributing to the general increase. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2013, approximately 43.8 million adults aged 18 years or older in the U.S., or 18.5% of all adults in the U.S., had suffered a form of mental illness in the past year and approximately 10 million adults aged 18 years or older in the U.S., or 4.2% of all adults in the U.S., had been diagnosed with a serious mental illness in the past year. (SAMHSA. 2013)

In addition, mental health is a condition that is associated with serious and widespread consequences that can range from physical to social detriments in a person’s life. It is thus important to understand the causation and development of various mental disorders to better help clients prevent, detect, and treat mental illness.

With the widespread use of social media, the advancement of technology, climate change, air pollution, and the constant burden and stressors of everyday life, such as ads being pushed in our face to traffic jams that make us question why we live where we do and if it’s worth our time. The environment has drastically changed from what our bodies have been used to for ages and we as a species have yet to adapt to such a change, and it’s likely that we never will with how quickly these changes have occurred in our society.

People today tend to be more reclusive with the advancement of technology and the increase in mental illness deters individuals from being social in their everyday environment. As we begin to become more social through ‘social media,’ we begin to become more distant in the way that we as people interact with one another. Being so ‘connected’ seems to be a negative aspect that has evolved with the advancement of technology, of social media. We were once more selfish with ourselves and our time. As time goes on, we stray further away from what we once were and the environment that we inhabited.

Background

There are many contributing and/or causative factors associated with mental health issues. Examples of such factors that were significantly linked to mental health are biological variables, such as genetics. In many mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder, can be associated or linked with genetic risk factors in individuals that have gone undetected and or untreated.

In addition, a number of environmental factors have been indicated as large contributing and/or causative factors of mental health illness. Some common examples of everyday variables can be common life stressors such as death, divorce, changing schools, and/or financial problems that can have a significant impact on mental health outcomes. (Kendler, Karowski, & Prescott, 1999) Cultural and social variables are other examples of these types of environmental risk factors, as are different external conditions that can impact a person, including prenatal exposure to viruses, toxins, alcohol, and/or drugs, nutritional deficiencies, chronic medical disorders, the presence of pollutants, high temperatures, and rural geographical location. (Williams, J. H., & Ross, L. 2007)

In light of the complex factors and the often-conflicting conditions, it is significant to possibly consider that all of these factors are interconnected. Mental health problems are likely to emerge from combinations of all the above-listed factors. (Uher, 2014) Mental disease prevention and treatment are not only of great importance to the wellbeing of people since mental health is one of the greatest predictors of life satisfaction, but also to reduce the extreme economic strain of the mental disease. Examples of an issue that can arise from mental health are homelessness, many individuals today face housing difficulties stemming from mental health problems that have either gone untreated and ignored on account of the lack of education or the lack of insurance to provide the individual with the proper care that they require. (Insel, 2008)

Mental health is not only concerned with mental illness and mental disorders, but also with the state of mental well-being, emotional resilience, and psychosocial well-being within individuals and groups. Furthermore, many geographical locations control access to the basic medical and mental health services needed by individuals with these issues/problems. Having access to nutritious food and adequate water, health care services, and mental health services for people is directly linked to either the positive or negative mental health status of individuals and communities. In addition, more rural areas tend to have a lack of care tools, including limited access to mental health facilities and mental health providers, as well as less education and recruitment initiatives for mental health professionals in the area (Tennant, 2002)

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