In our age mental health is the result of cooperating complex factors of internal, external, and relational determinants. Its existence or lack depends on the lifestyle, environment and genetic factors, too.
The rush and constant changes of our age challenges people every day. Our stimulus rich environment offers constant development and renewing innovations of technology to support us. The never before experienced comfort and safety of developed world and consumer society is available for the masses. And yet, the mental state of people still reflects deficiencies.
It has become clear that for the protection of adaptability and ability for achievement and development, protecting physical health is not enough. At least the same emphasis should be placed on mental health and mental hygiene. To achieve this the person, family, society and even health care system, workplaces, educational and social institutions should put some effort.
Mental hygiene approaches
Ancient philosophers already took into consideration mental factors in the life of a person or a society. The science of mental health, called mental hygiene was born in the beginning of 20th century, when some experts recognized the role of mental health care in the prevention of deterioration or relapses in psychiatric cases.
In the development of mental hygiene, a person focused humanistic approach brought remarkable change. This approach sees the person as an entity with endless internal possibilities. According to this theory, health does not equal the lack of illness, it is an autonomous quality, the fulfilment of an individual. This approach attributes important role to the person in the healing process and the change.
The terms used by mental hygiene has been adapted to the change of care through the decades. In the descriptions about mental health not patient but client, not illness but disorder, not doctor but consultant are the presently used expressions.
Mental hygiene in a broader sense means all methods and actions preventing, slowing or stopping harmful mental processes. It also includes all the knowledge needed, too.
Mental health and mental disorders
Definition of mental health depends greatly on culture. It is a subjective term with strong personal differences. In our age mental health has strong connections with lifestyle, and when lifestyle changes unwillingly, it may be a factor in an appearing mental disorder.
When the individual is not able to live up to different external expectations anymore, it hinders relaxing and resting and increases stress. The lack of relaxing prevents fulfilling the person’s role in the family or work and may lead to the breakdown of mental balance.
Unprocessed stress, insoluble tension may harm mental and physical health, therefore psychosomatic and organic illnesses may appear. One sign of the threatening problems is the use of substances such as alcohol, drugs and arbitrarily administered medicines as stress relievers. Harmful compensation techniques have environmental patterns and effects, but positive examples may be attractive as well. That gives even more importance to the promotion of mental hygiene information.
Mental health as an achievable value
The public discourse of our days puts health as an achievable end product in the centre, instead of only focusing to preventing illnesses. Educational material ensures readers and listeners that mental health is almost only his or her responsibility, and methods, information, expert help is available to anyone for free.
If additional help is needed on the level of primary care, the general practitioner sends the patient to a specialist. Specialist units, however, can be visited without a referral as well. In schools psychologists are available to the students; and health development and screening programs may offer help for the ones affected by mental problems.
More and more workplaces turn attention to mental hygiene, too. In the present time, besides family, people face the most stress in their work environment. Unsolved role conflicts, unachievable, excessive expectations, tension in the group, reorganizations, loosing jobs all imposes burden on the vulnerable employee.
More and more employers consider the mental wellbeing of the individual as something with a positive effect on the workplace community and work itself. Mental hygiene in the workplace is the responsibility of leaders, and the measures for the employees’ wellbeing affect all players in a positive way.
Mental Health Promotion Centres (MHPCs)
The first Health Promotion Offices (HPOs) were founded in the years of 2010 for introducing health-conscious behaviour, and approach. These are important institutions of public health care system in Hungary. The next few years the HPOs appeared all over the country, establishing connection between the region’s experts of health education and health protection, and creating institutional background to the health development programs.
Focusing on the protection of mental health, most of the HPOs operate Mental Health Promotion Centres. The centre’s specialists contribute to the distribution of knowledge on preserving mental health and they offer free individual help for the ones in need.