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Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity which gives us the concept of the holism of health (Leach et al., 2018). According to a report given by the World Health Organization, there are around 450 million people across the world who is suffering from mental health problems and one in four people have suffered from mental health problem at least once in their lives (Bährer-Kohler, 2017). Mental health diagnosis changes the perception of the people who are being diagnosed and the ones around them as it is most commonly associated with stigma and taboo. The aim of the present essay is to discuss the qualitative experience of people who are diagnosed with mental health illness.
Perception of the people suffering from mental health illness is different from those who suffer from other forms of illness like physical illness or life-limiting diseases or disorders. The experiences of patients while going through the experience can be called qualitative experience or lived experience. The lived experience of the people with mental health diagnosis is that they have to cope with the actual illness they are suffering from that is mental health but as this is associated with the stigma that is the secondary illness that the patient has to cope with. Stigma is a negative characteristic which affects the social functioning of the person suffering from mental illness which often results in discrediting and social segregation and isolation. In a study conducted by Corker et al. (2016), it was reported that nine out of ten mental health patient suffer from social stigma. When a person suffers from any kind of illness it not only affects him but it also affects the family and carers of the patient and what is faced by the patients is extended to them as well and in this case, it is the stigma. In a study conducted by Huggett et al. (2018) where focused group interviews were conducted and thematic analysis was done and the main themes identified were the impact of the hierarchy of labels and developing resilience. It was seen that the patients reflected that the illness had an impact on them, on there and there was associated institutional stigma and development of resilience was associated with peer support and to gain the control back.
When a person suffers from any kind of mental illness, the quality of life of a person is affected and suffering from mental health problem also affects the quality of life of the patient as well as those around them. In a systematic review which was conducted to explore the important domains of quality of life that is associated with the mental health and illness it was seen that the domains identified were: health, autonomy, choice, perception, sense of belonging, hope and hopelessness (Keetharuth et al., 2018). It was seen that the patients with mental illness perceived good quality of life as when they were in control in times of distress, their autonomy and choice when they have a good image and sense of belonging while they are engaged in meaningful activities and they feel that there is hope and gives them optimism. They perceived that they had poor quality of life when they had severe mental health problems and they were in distress or they felt like they lost control when there was no control and self-esteem, social isolation and sense of hopelessness. In this study also the quality of life is related to the social stigma that was associated with mental health illness.
It is seen that people often learn to live with their illnesses and being diagnosed with a mental health problem is difficult to manage, perceive and live (Peter &Jungbauer, 2019). The present era is of recovery and even recovery from mental health problems have been made a priority rather than just the treatment for the same and to do that understanding the lived experience of the patients is of utmost importance (Peter &Jungbauer, 2019). This is known to help the people providing care to understand the hindrance to recovery and in turn health outcome of the patients can be improved (Williams et al., 2015). The patients often associate recovery as the return to the normal functioning of the body or in the present case mental health and this is a perception from physical illness. In actuality, it is not a cure or a goal to be reached instead it is the complex journey which is associated with continuous healing process which is related to the process of one's life, related to the hopes and aspirations which are associated with dignity and autonomy (Jacob, 2015).
Consumers of mental health are not the patients alone but also are the family members and caregivers of the patients (Chen et al., 2019). It is often seen that people who are suffering from mental illness and the people caring for them alter their life and schedule their life according to so that they can accommodate the illness and this not only has an impact on the patients but also on people surrounding them. Some of the mental illness can have an aggressive outlook for example schizophrenia in which the patient has episodes of aggression in which the patient have a tendency to harm self and others. In case of such outbreaks, there is often use of restraints which can be physical, mechanical or chemical and can harm the patient and the family members emotionally (Chen et al., 2019). The perception of family members as consumers can vary in this case as there is a school of thought which says that the patient needs to be restrained to save from self-harm while the other train of thought is that seeing the patient in such a state is emotionally and physically exhausting (Halter, 2017). The consumers of mental health often try and learn to live with the illness that they have been diagnosed with while there are many factors which affect or form the perception of the patients and their family members (Waugh et al., 2017). One-off the main things that are seen is the fact that there is self-stigmatization which is more commonly associated with the attitude healthcare professionals might have while diagnosing as well as treating the patients (Waugh et al., 2017).
In conclusion, mental health illness is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world and everyone at some point in their lifetime suffers from. For the complete health and proper functioning of the health, it is necessary that a person has sound mental health as well. Consumers of mental health are not just the patients but also the family members of the patient as it affects the lives of everyone. Mental health problems are always associated with social stigma and the role played by it in negative and positive health outcome is profound and the perception of it is subjective in nature. When there is a severe mental illness it sometimes requires aggressive treatment measures which are seen to physically and emotionally exhausting for everyone involved in the process. Understanding the qualitative experience of patients with mental health illness is required for recovery-based practice.
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