For an illness to be treated, it needs to be addressed using a holistic approach.

Destiny Shadracks, Reporter

According to the NHS in England 1 in 6 people are reported to be experiencing a mental health problem such as anxiety and depression. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. These very common issues can have serious effects on not just the mental health but also the physical heath of an individual. 

Due to the stigma around mental illnesses this topic is rarely touched on and negative phrases are still commonly used such as ‘it’s all in your head’ which minimises the reality for those who are suffering. This further worsens the mental state for those who are struggling. What a lot of people don’t realise is that this can also have a detrimental effect on their physical health as well. 

Common mental health problem such as anxiety can come with a plethora of health issues such as fatigue, insomnia, muscle tension or muscle aches, excessive sweating, nausea, diarrhoea or irritable bowel syndrome according to the NHS. 

Physical health can be further compromised by the side effects of mental health medications, Olanzepine, for example which is used for treatment of psychosis can cause weight gain. So physical health needs to be closely monitored when prescribed anti psychotic medications because it can have a negative impact on physical health. 

A mental health professional, Nikki Shadracks believes there isn’t much awareness regarding the physical effects of mental health issues: I think it’s partly due to lack of knowledge and awareness. People need to be more educated on this topic. For an illness to be treated, it needs to be addressed using a holistic approach. 

Are mental health patients properly informed when they experience physical health issues that it’s linked to their mental health issues?  Nikki said: “In my experience, patients’ physical health is also assessed during initial assessment on admission to the hospital. A holistic assessment process is applied. We also look at social relationships work life and future.” 

It is possible for physical symptoms to go away after the mental health issues have been addressed. Nikki stressed that every individual is different in how they respond to treatment. She said: “a person may be stabilised with a minimum dose of medication incorporating psychological and social therapy and giving the person a better quality of life.” 

Do you think that more awareness of the lines between physical and mental health is important?  It will certainly improve people’s knowledge and understanding. It could possibly aid their attitude towards mental health issues and its impact on physical health. 

Therefore, it is very important to raise awareness and normalise conversations about the physical impact of mental health.