October 7 – 13 is Mental Health Awareness Week

October 12, 2012| Last modified on December 30th, 2019 Rajeev Rajagopal 0 Comments

October 10 is designated as World Mental Health Day by the WHO (World Health Organization) to draw attention to the fact that mental disorders do not receive the care due to them. This is true in various parts of the world and therefore awareness has to be increased regarding this. People need to come together and express their commitment to mental health care. In the year 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). This year October 7 – 13 is being observed as the National Mental Health Awareness Week in the United States.

Studies prove that mental health is inextricably connected to physical health and therefore you need to be in good emotional health if you are to enjoy good physical health. Unfortunately, mental disorders affect almost 12% of the world’s population and many of these go unnoticed and untreated. To promote more openness on mental health issues and improved treatment services, the WHO is highlighting “Depression: A Global Crisis” in 2012.

Depression is a condition that can be really debilitating, and it is estimated that one out of 20 people have this condition though they live in denial of it. Depression is believed to stem from several reasons including grief, trauma, problems at the workplace, genetic pre-disposition and incompatible relationships. Alcoholics and obese individuals are also prone to depression. This condition is linked to pregnancy as well. Depression is said to be fifty percent higher in women than in men. This is a condition that leads to a number of suicides. According to the WHO, each year one million people commit suicide, which adds up to 3000 deaths per day.  In view of this alarming statistics, whatever the cause of depression may be, it is vital that professional help is sought immediately before the problem worsens.

A recent study conducted by the University of Florida shows that computerized medical record systems could negatively affect mental healthcare. The findings have been published in the August issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. The study highlights the fact that patients suffering from three or more chronic medical conditions are less likely to receive treatment for depression in primary care practices employing EMR, compared to practices using paper-based records. The researchers feel that EMRs are likely to reduce the active interaction between patients and physicians. A second reason could be that with EMR, the physician tends to focus more on physical health issues than mental health issues. According to lead investigator Jeffrey Harman, “There is some evidence that typing these notes into the computer is actually reducing the amount of time that physicians and patients talk to each other during visits.” In case the physician has time to address only two out of three conditions, they may avoid addressing the issue of depression.

More research is needed to establish whether EMR is indeed responsible for overlooked depression care. However, since EMR has been made mandatory by the federal government, it is important that physicians take care to maintain excellent psychosocial interactions with their patients to ensure that they address the mental health issues of their patients.

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