Society, Aging and Mental Health

Mental health is a resource that enables individual’s to grow and learn and experience life as enjoyable and fulfilling all through life. Although mental disorders are one of the main burdens of morbidity in the world, yet in Switzerland, policies on mental health are still largely insufficient not only for treatment but as well for preventing conditions leading to mental disorders. (Stuckelberger & Wanner, 2008) Countries of all income levels have successfully scaled up mental health services, often using innovative approaches. To illustrate, by the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September 2015 the Sustainable Development Agenda was adopted to transform world by 2030 by promoting mental health and well-being, and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse. This is recognition of the importance of these areas of health within global development and health priorities. (WHO, 2016)

The burden of mental disorders continues to grow with significant impacts on health and major social, human rights and economic consequences in all countries of the world. (WHO M. C., 2016) One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. Depressive disorders are already the fourth leading cause of the global disease burden. They are expected to rank second by 2020, behind ischemic heart disease but ahead of all other diseases. (WHO P. R., 2001)

Depression is a common, often long-lasting and recurrent mental disorder that significantly impairs a person’s functioning, and leads to a serious suffering and diminished quality of life of the person affected with depression. The incidences of depression are increasing in the last decades so depression is becoming a major public health issue, and World Health Organization states that depression is even the leading cause of disability as measured by Years Lived with Disability. (Dadić-Hero & Knez, 2014)

Globally, an estimated 350 million people are affected by depression. More women are affected than men. Depression is characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, tiredness, and poor concentration. Sufferers may also have multiple physical complaints with no apparent physical cause. Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing people’s ability to function at work or school and to cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide. (WHO M. C., 2016) Besides depressed mood, depression includes other emotional, motivational, behavioural, somatic and cognitive symptoms, and clinical presentation of depression varies among patients. Many physical illnesses can mimic depression, and many medications have unwanted pro-depressive effects. (Dadić-Hero & Knez, 2014) The author suggests that due to that the false treatment of depression, or life lead with depression, can further develop into many other mental health disorders.

Bipolar affective disorder affects about 60 million people worldwide. It typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. Manic episodes involve elevated or irritable mood, over-activity, pressure of speech, inflated self-esteem and a decreased need for sleep. People who have manic attacks but do not experience depressive episodes are also classified as having bipolar disorder. (WHO M. C., 2016)
Furthermore about depression, which is one of the most common mental disorders as well in the U.S, the current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. To add, depression can happen at any age. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016) By 2030, depression is expected to become the biggest single cause of disability affected life years, which is a composite measure of years of life lost to premature death and disability. (Business Insider)
To conclude the burden of depression all over the world that as well affects the appearance and development of other mental health issues, to add the raise in bipolar affective disorder trends, sufficient treatments are demanded and this shows up a growing tendency.


Furthermore the health effects are connected to accessed social economic status across societies. For example, in the United States, accessed educational and occupational status is associated positively with health information seeking and smoking cessation but negatively with self-reported health and depression; inversely in Belgium, accessed occupational status or class exerts a positive impact on self-reported health. (Song, 2015) Meanwhile relatively independent of wealth that can be measured through accessed socio economic status, providing individuals more autonomy appears to be important for reducing negative psychological symptoms. (Fischer & Boer, 2011)

Individuals tend to evaluate themselves in comparison to others, and these comparison targets constitute reference groups (Festinger, 1954; Hyman, 1942). It argues that higher-status reference groups can damage health through triggering upward or negative social comparison, while lower-status reference groups can protect health through eliciting downward or positive social comparison. (Song, 2015) The higher the absolute accessed socio economic status and the size of higher accessed socioeconomic positions, the greater the chance of encountering higher-status reference groups and making upward or negative social comparison, which can damage health through threatening self-esteem and provoking stressful reactions (e.g., goal-striving stress, relative deprivation, life dissatisfaction, anger, and sense of failure) and risky behaviours (Eibner and Evans, 2005; Merton and Kitt, 1950; Moore et al., 2009b; Parker and Kleiner, 1966; Song, 2014a, 2014b, 2015; Song and Chen, 2014; Wilkinson and Pickett, 2010). The lower the absolute accessed socio economic status and the size of lower accessed socioeconomic positions, the greater the possibility of encountering a lower-status reference group and making downward or positive social comparison, which can protect health through enhancing self-esteem. (Song, 2015)

Individualistic culture nurtures a motive to self-enhance, while collectivistic culture cultivates a motive to self-improve. In individualistic culture, people tend to value the unique independent self and individual success and strive for self-serving positive self-evaluation. In collectivistic culture, people tend to cherish social scrutiny and public reputation and endeavour for self-critical negative self-evaluation to maintain and improve their social standing. Therefore, people in individualistic culture are more likely to prefer downward or positive social comparison but less likely to seek upward or negative social comparison than those in collectivistic culture (Chung and Mallery, 1999; White and Lehman, 2005; Song, 2014b; due to that high societies in Eastern- and Western cultures have different tendencies and vulnerability to the negative psychological effects because of individual accessed socio economic status.

People’s mental health may benefit from accessed occupational status while at the same time suffering from it. High accessed socio economic status may motivate and facilitate ego’s instrumental efforts in upward status attainment and maintenance of physical health but damage ego’s mental health and psychological well-being more directly through triggering deleterious upward social comparison. (Song, 2015) People tend to evaluate themselves in comparison with higher-status contacts (Festinger, 1954; Merton and Kitt, 1950). In regard to that richer people tend to experience more negative emotions because of their high society community where the comparison takes place, this promotes their higher vulnerability to develop various mental health issues.

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