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Kansas NPW: Mental Health and Mental Illness Prevention — LET’s TALK ABOUT PREVENTION

Facts About Prevention of Mental Illness

Fact 1: There is much evidence that reducing biological and psychosocial risk factors can prevent mental disorders. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/home.html

Fact 2: Several exemplary programs exist to prevent biological and psychosocial risk factors. http://www.who.int/mental_health/media/en/545.pdf

Fact 3: There is credible evidence that certain well implemented programs can achieve significantly more benefits than costs to taxpayers and that prevention of mental disorder pays. http://www.wsipp.wa.gov/rptfiles/04-07-3901.pdf

Fact 4: Scientists agree an interaction between genetic and environmental factors influences mental health.

Interpretation of these “Facts” are what create powerful questions for discussion and decision-making for each of us in our personal health, our families, our communities, our counties, the State of Kansas and our country.

What do you think of the following factors and how they might be influence you and your mental health?

  • Genetic factors. Scientists believe some individuals have a genetic predisposition for mental illness. Although genes influence the development of mental illnesses, they do not preordain it. Certain environmental conditions must also be present. Schizophrenia is considered highly heritable. The likelihood that identical twins will both have the disorder is 50 percent. This means that in half the cases, one twin will not have the disorder, suggesting that environmental factors exert a significant influence in the onset of schizophrenia.
  • Environmental factors. Damage from exposure to alcohol, illegal drugs, and tobacco; low birth weight; brain injury or oxygen deprivation; infection, poor nutrition, or exposure to toxins in the environment may negatively affect the development of the fetus and newborn contributing to the onset of mental disorders.
  • Childhood factors.  Children that experience stress from poverty and abuse and neglect are vulnerable to developing depression, anxiety, and antisocial behaviors that may continue into adulthood. Research has found that parental mental health problems increases the risk for mental health problems in their children. There is also a relationship between traumatic life events, such as parental death or divorce, and the onset of major depression in young children, especially if they occur in early childhood and lead to a permanent, negative change in the child’s life.

NAMI Kansas wants to challenge you to have a powerful conversation with your family, your friends, your church, your employer or elected officials about what you and they think about these topics.  What do you think Kansas could be doing to prevent mental illness and promote sustainable mental health in Kansas?

Post what you learn in these conversations on Facebook or email NAMI Kansas or at amartin@namikansas.org

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