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Physical and mental illness often coincide

11th October 2010

Physical and mental illness often coincide

[Posted: Sun 10/10/2010 -]

The link between chronic illness and mental health problems is being stressed today - World Mental Health Day.

Marking World Mental Health Day, Hugh Kane, CEO of the Mental Health Commission, said one in four people around the world will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.

"The frequent co-existence of depression and chronic illness, pointed to by the World Federation for Mental Health, highlights the need for integrated care within the health service."

Mr Kane said physical and mental illness do not always coincide, but do so often enough that medical professionals should give this special consideration and attention.

"The frequent co-existence of mental and physical illness, the fact that there is still a stigma associated with mental illness, highlight the need for better integration between mental and physical health care. Integrated care can help people improve the management of coexisting mental and physical illness.”

Research produced by the World Federation for Mental Health shows that depression is present in 1 in 5 outpatients with coronary heart disease and in 1 of 3 out patients with congestive heart failure. However, most cases are not recognised or appropriately treated.

According to Hugh Kane, understanding of the relationship between chronic illnesses and mental illness has increased dramatically in the last two decades.

"Depression has often been referred to as a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Therefore, it is not surprising that depression is the most common complication of almost all serious medical conditions."

He said it is is essential to view physical and mental health as an integrated area of care, and that both are treated equally in a holistic and comprehensive way. Referrals from primary care to specialised care should be available as needed.

The Mental Health Commission says there are several essential steps which have been identified as fundamental to maintain good physical and mental health. These include:

*Proper nutrition


*Taking an active role in your own healthcare


*Educating yourself about your illness

*Pacing yourself

*Reducing stress.

Finf our more about Word Mental Health Day here

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