Mental health, poverty, nutrition; not just a “Mike-the-Situation” in third world countries


The concept of poor mental health is somewhat of a “does the chicken come before the egg” situation. What I mean by this statement is that quite frankly when a family is in poverty, that family can clearly not afford the optimal diet for even the basic level of well-being and functioning. Many stigmatize that the impoverished are simply ignorant and while education on proper nutrition is often a legit cause of poor nutritional habits, that just isn’t always the case. Take my chicken before the egg statement and think of it this way; if you are poor and cannot afford nutrient dense foods what do you think will happen to your overall health, not just your mental health? Things either do not develop properly if one is still in the developmental stages ie. brain tissue, organs, muscles, bones, cells as a whole needed for many processes etc. or things will break down. It is also a well know fact that poverty is stressful and I do believe that most are at least somewhat educated on the detrimental effects of stress on the body and on mental health. To be honest, the case of poverty and nutrition often makes me bite my tongue when I call certain foods “the devil”. Yes in a perfect world we would all be eating organic everything and blah blah blah but this is reality. I do feel that money would be better spent on making healthy foods like produce, meats, beans, nuts, legumes more of a priority and eliminating the billions spent on sodas, juices, Big Macs and so forth but if what we get for now is corn, rice, vitamin and mineral enriched less-than-stellar foods to feed the impoverished, than so be it I suppose (for now dammit!!lol)

So really, is poor mental health a side effect of poor nutrition due to poverty or do those in poverty just coincidentally tend to be more prone to mental health than others? You decide.Part of the problem is monetary, part of it is education. There are healthier alternatives on-the-REALLY-cheap that you can make and at least get some nutrients in your diet. The great thing is that with even eating healthier than you may already be eating and doing some kind of exercise every day, the stress of the lifestyle you are in can and will be more manageable.

I am working towards some things and hopefully I will be able to share them with you all sooner than later but for now, if you are someone who has a little extra in their fridge or pantry or even education-wise, why not share the health 🙂 Be well and please read a little more on mental health, nutrition and poverty below written by a gentleman for Health Mad and remember, this is NOT just in third world countries, this is quite rampant in our own backyards here in North America.

Mental health is a key development issue. The development of mental health services in individual countries is a means of contributing towards the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.

Mental health is a key development issue. The development of mental health services in individual countries is a means of contributing towards the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing extreme poverty and hunger by 2015.

Mental ill health accounts for 11 per cent of the total Global Burden of Disease.

Conflict, disasters, increasing numbers of displaced people, the impact of HIV/AIDS, and nutritional deficiencies contribute further to the mental ill health burden. Just as poverty and ill healthcare intertwined (poor countries tend to have worse health outcomes than less poor countries, and poor people have worse health outcomes than those who are better off) so poverty and mental health are also intertwined, and the association reflects causality in both directions. Poverty worsens mental ill health, and mental ill health makes poor people poorer.

Conversely, at a societal level, good mental health is an important resource for individuals, families and communities. Mental health is an indivisible part of public health, contributes to the functions of society and has an effect on overall productivity. Mental health contributes to human, social and economic capital and overall development, and is an important component of any strategy to reduce poverty. Positive mental health enhances the individual’s capacity to contribute to family and other social networks, the local community and society at large, and is fundamental in enabling avoidance of risk-taking behavior.

Thus it is important to develop and implement mental health policy and to integrate mental health policy into public health policy and general social policy because mental disorder causes a heavy burden for society, impedes the development of other health and development targets, contributes to poverty and differentially affects the poor; and last but not least, because mental health itself is of intrinsic value as is physical health.

Mental health services are a key component of any basic health service package, and should be available to all, at the level of primary care, supported by hospital services. This will require strengthening of health systems, and new approaches to community involvement.

Stigma and its consequences:

In developing mental health policy, it is important to include consideration of stigma about mental health issues and mental illness. As well as the impact on the individual with mental illness, stigma results in a lack of attention from ministers and the public, which then results in a lack of resource and morale, decaying institutions, lack of leadership, inadequate information systems, and inadequate legislation.

By resulting in social exclusion of people with mental illness, Stigma is detrimental not just to people with mental illness, but also to the health of society as a whole. All too often our services are departure points for exclusion when they should be stepping stones for social inclusion.

International Perspective:

In 2001, WHO devoted both its annual health day and its annual health report to mental health, which called on the countries to develop Mental Health Policies?

In the same year, the Institute of Medicine, in Washington, launched a scientific report on Neurological, Psychiatric and developmental disorders in low income countries which called for immediate strategic action to reduce the burden of brain disorders.

Originally posted here: http://healthmad.com/mental-health/mental-health-17/

 

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