Depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems: Prevention is better than cure.

Rain Cloud with rain over a man
Alison Lees Mental Health, Parenting May 30, 2017

Do you suffer from Depression? Anxiety? A substance disorder? I bet that at the very least, someone close to you suffers from either one or multiple mental health difficulties. Did you know:

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that mental health issues (such as depression, anxiety, substance disorders to name a few) contribute to 13% of the global burden of disease. This is a very high statistic considering the existence of HIV/AIDS and other prevalent diseases.
  • Major Depressive Disorder (Depression) is the third leading cause of disease burden globally.
  • It is predicted that by 2030 depression will be the LEADING cause of disease burden.
  • In low- and middle-income countries, such as South Africa, there is a treatment gap of 85% (85% of individuals suffering from mental health issues are not treated).

These statistics have alarming implications for individuals suffering from mental health issues, particularly those living in low-and-middle-income countries. Not only is the prevalence of mental health disorders like Depression increasing, the lack of treatment opportunities perpetuates an already overwhelming situation.

If you suffer from mental health difficulties, you are not alone. This is a very common problem and one that can be remedied. You do not need to suffer in silence and isolationThere is hope and help available.

If you are resourced enough to seek treatment, it is vital that you do so. There should be no shame in attending psychotherapy with a psychologist who will be able to manage your case, assist you through your difficulties, and refer you on to a medical health professional if needed. Most medical aids cover a number of psychotherapeutic sessions. For individual’s who are not able to afford this private service, government hospitals and primary health care clinics have psychological and psychiatric services available.

If mental health issues are left untreated there are a number of negative consequences that can occur, but the largest of these is the impact that they can have on our children. When we consider parenting, mental health difficulties can be viewed as “contagious” in that they can be easily passed onto our children. Establishing and maintaining a secure attachment with your child is the best preventative and protective measure against mental health issues that you can offer them. Untreated mental health issues in parents are barriers to the attachment process which in turn predisposes your child to suffer from mental health issues. The best way that you can intervene in this situation is to seek treatment for yourself and to ensure that you are engaging in a responsive, sensitive and connected relationship with your child.

This week (28 May-4 June 2017) is National Child Protection Week and we would like to highlight how Attachment-based practices can be used to protect your child, particularly against mental health issues. So practice Protection through Connection.