Obesity is a major health problem globally affecting more than 1.9 billion adults worldwide (World Health Organization, 2020). The health condition is associated with multiped comorbidities that impact the quality of life and wellbeing of the individuals. Another health menace that is captured in the world is mental illness. It has been argued that about 450 million adults suffer from mental disorders affecting 25% of the global population (World Health Organization, 2019). However, obesity and psychological disorders like intellectual disabilities can occur together and can act as co-dependent variables impacting the overall health and wellbeing of an individual (Aguayo et al., 2019).
Multiple ways to generate awareness and encourage community action towards such health problems have been largely initiated. This paper aims to discuss how photovoice can be of essential significance in generating support for health conditions and empowering the community. This paper will also discuss the significance of the health issues and throw light on how they can impact on the health of an individual. Further, this paper is also inclusive of a reflective analysis of the process of collection of photos of the patient taken into consideration for this study, Jane (Pseudonym).
In the year 2015, there were more than six million Australian adults that were obese. This accounted for 36% of the total population of the country. Obesity has been known to give rise to multiple health problems (Government of Australia,2016). It has also been associated with mental illnesses and has been closely linked to conditions like depression and anxiety (Aguayo et al., 2019). On the contrary, 20% of Australians aged 16-85 experience mental health problems in their lives. Intellectual disabilities manifest as an amalgamation of conditions that impact the psychological as well as the physical health of the patient. These disabilities can lead to detachment and delusion in patients that can lead to allied health problems like obesity.
Therefore, there is significant co-dependence among the two diseases that impact the health and wellbeing of an individual. To manage these health conditions, the Government of Australia has developed various policies and strategies for the maintenance and limiting of the health condition. The Mental health policy has devised multiple comprehensive health action plans to develop services, provide adequate management strategies, and promote health among mental health patients. The National disability strategy has been developed that aims to produce inclusive and accessible communities with right protection, economic security, development of personal and community support, development of learning skills, and promotion of health and wellbeing of the disabled population (Government of Australia, 2018).
Similarly, to combat obesity in the population of Australia, Government has undertaken effective measures that include the development of Australian dietary guidelines, promotion of “Health Star Rating”, development of “Healthy food partnership” between the communities and the public health services. The “Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behavior Guidelines” have also been developed by the government to promote a healthy lifestyle among the individuals (Government of Australia,2019)
The intellectual disabilities can significantly impact the wellbeing and lifestyle of an individual as it affects the learning abilities and understanding of an individual. As the patient develops psychological impairment, the ability of cognitive reasoning is compromised. This affects the decision-making process of an individual and impacts the overall health and wellbeing. Most mental health problems and intellectual disabilities can result in emotional distancing in an individual (World Health Organization, 2019). As a consequence, the participation of the patient in the daily life activities and communities is restricted and a sedentary lifestyle is adopted. This sedentary lifestyle can result in the development of obesity which is a deadly comorbid condition.
Obesity results in the development of cardiovascular diseases and health conditions like diabetes mellitus and other chronic health problems that impact the quality of life and health of the patient significantly. An individual who does not possess efficient skills to manage health due to psychological impairment may be severely affected by comorbidities of obesity. The development of cardiovascular health conditions can increase the chances of stroke and other health problems risking the life of the patient (Aguayo et al., 2019). Intellectual disabilities problems may also impact the relationship with the family members and carers of the patient due to emotional distancing and detachment.
This affects the interpersonal relationships of the patient and impacts the overall process of recovery and management of the health condition. Person-centered care has been found to be effective for patients with mental health problems that have been associated with comorbid health conditions (Cusack, 2018). Providing patient and carers with essential knowledge about the management and care of health condition has also been effective (Ardiles et al., 2019). In comorbid conditions where patient suffers from both, mental illnesses and obesity, participation in physical activity has been found to be effective in managing the physical as well a psychological wellbeing of the patients.
Photovoice has been identified as a participatory action research methodology that involves the taking of images by individuals, the discussion and analysis of these images, and the use of the images to communicate the lived experiences, strengths, and challenges. The technique is often used to combine photography with social problems to develop and enhance community action by promoting health, wellness, and by raising awareness. It has also been clubbed under community based participatory research (CBPR) and has been found to be effective in preventing and managing complex public health problems (Ardiles et al., 2019). The technique has been used for promoting collaborative research and employment of community action to drive social change.
The technique serves as an amalgamation of the research process with the community capacity building to drive health promotion. It has been found to be the highly effective practice of evidence that can lead to health promotion and effective community participation towards the same. Obesity is a disease that is largely born through lifestyle habits and is, therefore, one of the preventable causes of morbidity in the population (Aguayo et al., 2019). Therefore, through a photovoice process, the problems associated with the health condition can be portrayed visually. This allows the participants to share their experiences and gain knowledge about the issues where ambiguity may exist.
This may help in the development of community ownership and helps draw attention to the prominent problems associated with the health condition (Ardiles et al., 2019). The Photovoice technique is highly effective for awareness generation regarding mental illnesses. Mental illnesses affect about 20% of Australian and 25% of the global population (Government of Australia, 2016). By involving photovoice as a medium for participatory efforts and collaboration, a larger section of the population can be involved that can help and assist individuals with mental illnesses by gaining knowledge. It also helps in providing knowledge to the patients to perceive the essential knowledge about their health condition and promote their wellbeing.
Photovoice can, therefore, be seen as an efficient tool that can help healthcare professionals for the effective treatment and management of health conditions. It can be also used to demonstrate the codependence of comorbidities like mental health problems and obesity on the lives of people and how preventive measures can be undertaken to limit their incidences (Aguayo et al., 2019). The Nursing and the Midwifery Board of Australia has established the code of conduct that asserts the significance of health promotion in the nursing practice (Cusack, 2018).
By utilization of tools like photovoice, health promotion can be done by engaging the participants in the prevention and management of the health condition. Another essential principle of the code of conduct is patient education. Through photovoice, essential education about the health condition can be provided that can help the patient take suitable decisions that promote their beneficence and health.
As a student nurse when I was appointed to take care of Jane, I was initially nervous as this was the first time I was providing care for a patient with multiple health problems. Jane is suffering from chronic depression that has led to the development of obesity and other comorbid health conditions in her life. The BMI of Jane is above 30 and she refuses to eat healthily or participate in any form of physical activity. I was first acquainted with the idea of photovoice for health promotion in my class where I learned that it is an effective tool for the promotion of health and wellness among individuals through a collaborative approach. I requested Jane for her consent for this analysis and she agreed to participate.
She asked me the purpose and I explained to her how photovoice works and how it can help her in managing her condition. Jane was patient and listened to the information I shared and agreed to participate. I also took permission from her son for this assessment. I collected pictures about the involved the lifestyle of Jane and reflected the cause and the consequence of her comorbid conditions. When I was collecting pictures, I was wondering how I can apply them to help the community in large for the effective management and treatment of chronic health conditions like depression and obesity.
I analyzed that the purpose of this photovoice should be to highlight how a healthy lifestyle can help in minimizing the physical problems associated with diabetes like cardiovascular and endocrine problems but also in alleviating psychological distress in the patients. Intermittently in the process of collecting the photos, Jane would sometimes become insecure and ask me the purpose repeatedly. I made sure that I explain it to her every time and took the assistance of her son in helping her calm down.
I observed that due to unhealthy habits manifested due to psychological illness in Jane, her blood glucose levels had spiked and she had turned diabetic. When I tried to suggest her to limit the intake of an unhealthy diet, she got agitated and reclusive. It was then I realized that by the adoption of photovoice as a mode of communication, individuals like Jane can be helped as they will be able to visualize the health problem and be able to participate in health promotion activities voluntarily to manage their condition and improve the overall quality of life.
Intellectual disabilities in patients with comorbid conditions like obesity require special care and assistance from health care professionals and carers. This essay summarizes the impact of the health care problems in patients with comorbid obesity along with intellectual disabilities. This paper also summarizes the epidemiology of the health conditions in the global as well as in the Australian context. Various policies that have been developed by the Government of Australia to assist individuals with mental health problems have also been discussed in this paper.
This essay also highlights the impact of the health condition on the patients. This essay also summarizes the use of photovoice for health promotion and collaborative community participation in the health conditions and how it can help patients with intellectual disabilities. Photovoice has been identified as a participatory action research methodology that involves the taking of images by individuals, the discussion and analysis of these images, and the use of the images to communicate the lived experiences, strengths, and challenges and an integral part of community-based research.
This paper also includes a brief reflective anecdote of how the process of photo collection was undertaken with the patient for this assessment. This essay, therefore, highlights the significance of the photovoice for health promotion for the concerning health issues and signifies how through community participation, health promotion can be encouraged in the population.
Aguayo, L., Lin, A., & Davis, M. M. (2019). A Health Twofer: Nurturing relationships are associated with lower odds of obesity-related mental health comorbidities in adolescence (P04-173-19). Current Developments in Nutrition, 3(1),1-4.
Ardiles, P., Casteleijn, M., Black, C., &Sørensen, K. (2019). Using Photovoice as a participatory approach to promote youth health literacy. International Handbook of Health Literacy, 247.
Cusack, L. (2018). Changes to code of conduct and code of ethics new code of conduct for midwives now in effect for all midwives. Australian Midwifery News, 18(1), 14.
Government of Australia (2016). Department of Health: Mental health policy. Retrieved from: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-policy#rev
Government of Australia (2018). National disability strategy 2010-2020.
Government of Australia (2019). Department of Health: Overweight and obesity. Retrieved from: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/Overweight-and-Obesity
World Health Organization (2019). Mental disorders affect one in four people. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/
World Health Organization (2020). Obesity and overweight. Retrieved from:https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
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