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Mental health is often neglected in public health contexts, especially in poor communities, as physical needs are more obvious (hunger, disease, the need for shelter). However those who experience illness or are in some way different can often benefit from relatively simple steps.
Other reasons for inaction are:
- A perception that mental illnesses are expensive to treat. This is true of individual therapy, but not true of other measures. Also, not treating can be more expensive, in the same way that physical illness can ruin families financially (breadwinner can’t work, family sinks further into poverty).
- Lack of understanding and prioritization
Awareness and understanding
Taking steps to increase understanding (by the affected person, any health professionals they see, their family and wider community) can be relatively affordable, and is possibly the most important component. However it is intangible and hard to measure, and thus it may be difficult to gain support for such measures.
This understanding may be helped through free literature (brochures, with detailed publications available for those who are interested), campaigns, and inclusion in education programs at school.
- "Where There Is No Psychiatrist" by Vikram Patel, a mental health care manual for non-specialist health workers, used in developing countries.
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