Health & WellnessLifestyles

Mental health is as important as physical health

Mental health is an important part of a person’s overall health and well-being. It includes emotional, psychological and social well-being and affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. It also helps determine how people handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.

According to a psychiatrist, mental health is as important as physical health – and for human beings to be functional, happy people, he said they need to adhere to healthy practices.

“I would like for persons to be more sensitized to the fact that we are all vulnerable in our own special ways,” Dillett told The Nassau Guardian as Mental Health Awareness month is observed in May as a time to raise awareness of people living with mental or behavioral health issues and to help reduce the stigma many people experience.

On his blog “Dr. John’s Blog”, the psychiatrist writes that everyone one is vulnerable, no matter how they try to avoid it. And that humans are born vulnerable and stay that way for their entire childhood. He said people’s relationship with vulnerability is something they are acquainted with, yet abandoned as they merge into adulthood.

He said people’s association with vulnerability requires a shift in awareness to strengthen their emotional well-being. And that vulnerability is not winning or losing, but having the courage to show up and be seen when you have no control over the outcome.

The doctor said that sometimes a kind word goes far.

Dr. John Dillett.

“You never know what’s going on with people sometimes, so its’ good to share a kind word.”

A person’s mental health can change over time, depending on many factors, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC). When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health could be impacted.

Depression, anxiety and psychosis are some of the most common mental health disorders that people may experience in their lives due to family genetics, stress and life choices. Dillett, the national director for forensic mental health services, said by working together, using psychotherapy and medical treatments, psychiatrists are able to help people recover their mental and physical health and to optimize their functioning. He said the goal is to help people to be the best that they can be.

“Many people that come to me marvel sometimes at how simple the solutions are,” said the doctor whose Consultant Psychiatrist Medical Office is located at Suite 210 Lagoon Court, 2nd Floor, Sandyport.

Dillett adds that mental health is not just about the person that is schizophrenic or bipolar. And that one thing people should know is that they are not alone and that there is help available for those people that are struggling.

At the same token, he admits that mental health conditions are still stigmatized and is something people are not always comfortable speaking about.

“The first step is the hardest – reaching out, letting someone know you have a problem, whether it’s family, a supervisor at work – and getting in contact with professionals that can assist.”

As more people come to the realization of the importance of mental health, the doctor said they find that people are better with coping with stress, and as a result are more productive.

Dillett is there every step of the journey with his patients during treatment – his goal being to help them grow from their struggles, heal from their pain, and move forward to where they want to be in life.

At the same token, he encourages people to think not just of themselves, but people that they know and have a conversation with people, letting them know that they care about them. Mental Health Awareness month, the doctor said, is an excellent time to have such a discussion.

In a first psychiatric consultation with Dillett, the goal is to help the client to find solutions to their problems by exploring thought patterns, behaviors, past experiences, and other influences from their life experiences. If necessary, he said, medications can be prescribed and follow-up sessions scheduled. Follow-up sessions strengthen a person’s ability to cope on their own and guide them into their best life. Consistent monitoring, he said, accelerates the healing process and allows patients to reach their goals much quicker.

Treatment focuses on helping individuals to heal, energize, and become aware of their inner strengths.

In the era of COVID-19, Dillet said there has been an uptick and increase on stress-related referrals with people seeking assistance to deal with their fear of getting sick, of loved ones getting ill, and of the death of loved ones.

“And then there’s the extra effect of the pandemic – the economic downturn, people losing their jobs, worrying about whether they will be able to send their kids to schools – so persons sometimes self-medicate and engage in maladaptive behavior.”

With so much going on, during Mental Health Awareness month, the doctor stresses that sometimes, a kind word goes far.

A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness, according to the CDC. It also states that mental and physical health are equally important components of overall health.

The CDC advises that there is not one single cause for mental illness, but that a number of factors can contribute to risk for mental illness, such as early adverse life experiences such as trauma or a history of abuse (child abuse, sexual assault, witness to violence); experiences related to other ongoing (chronic) medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes; biological factors, such as genes or chemical imbalances in the brain; use of alcohol or recreational drugs; having few friends; and having feeling of loneliness or isolation.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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