Dr Sarika Ingale
In this article, we are going to have a brief look at the concept of mental health, mental hygiene and how Homeopathy can serve as an advantageous tool to achieve the goal of mental health in a harmless, cost-effective and effective way.
KEYWORDS – Mental health, mental hygiene, Homeopathy and mental health.
At the backdrop of COVID -19 Pandemic the importance of mental health is once again highlighted. Dr. Hahnemann was the first physician in late 1700, before the birth of psychiatry or the popularity of psychology, who recognised insanity as an illness of mind and advocated its humane treatment. He evolved Homeopathy as a therapeutic system where the study of the mind and its symptoms were given the most important and thus, he did the pioneering work in mental health care. Being the holistic science and integrated way of treatment homeopathy holds high importance in mental health and promotion of mental hygiene.
However, the importance of Mental health was perceived and acknowledge in mid-19th century by William Sweetser was the first to coin the term mental hygiene, which can be seen as the precursor to contemporary approaches to work on promoting positive mental health. The importance of mental health can be gauged if we read the definition of health given by WHO, where the mental well being is an integral part of health.(1)
“A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”(2)
Hence it is important to understand what Mental health is? Let’s have a look at the Definition of Mental health – “A state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
It means it is the successful performance of a mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people and the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity. Mental health is How a person looks at own’s self, looks at their own’s life and the others
thinks, feels, and acts when faced with life’s situations, evaluates those challenges and problems, and explore choices. i.e. handling stress, relating to other people, and making decisions.
Maria Jahoda (1963) proposed the following six characteristics of the mentally healthy individual —
- Self-governance: The person demonstrates autonomy.
- Growth orientation: progress toward self- realization, maximization of capacities.
- Tolerance of uncertainty: The person faces the uncertainty of living
- Self-esteem: built on self-knowledge and awareness of talents, abilities, and limitations.
- Mastery of the environment: capable, competent, and creative in dealing with and influencing the environment.
- Reality orientation: distinguishes
- Stress management: experiences
Evidence from the World Health Organization suggests that nearly half the world’s population is affected by mental illness with an impact on their self-esteem, relationships and ability to function in everyday life.(3)
“There is growing evidence that is showing emotional abilities are associated with prosocial behaviour such as stress management and physical health” (Richards, Campania, & Muse-Burke (2010). The importance of maintaining good mental health is crucial to living a long and healthy life.
To denote the practice of mental health and prevention of mental illness, Mental Hygiene is the term. Definition of Mental Health is – “Developing, maintaining and promoting necessary behavioural, emotional and social skills to sustain good, effective and efficient mental health.”
Mental hygiene can be practised in two perspectives – prevention of mental illness and in a therapeutic way. If we study the role of homeopathy in the light of mental health and hygiene, we find homoeopathy is the most advantageous therapeutic method. (5)
Homeopathy is the HOLISTIC science, where the integrated study of body and mind is done. The concept of disease in homeopathy is not materialistic or pathological but it’s the complex interplay of mind, attitude life situations and the suffering of patients.
Since, Mental Health cycle can be explained as – THOUGHTS – FEELING – ACTION- CONSEQUENCES
While the case taking process of Homeopathy tries to find out the reasons and hence the places of corrections in the disposition and attitude of patients, this will be of great help to the patient and physician to list down his strength and weakness. He can get an insight into his problems and their possible way outs while narrating the physician. Sharing with a physician can be a way out of his emotional ventilation, and to build social/ emotional support. Thus, this is a way of preventive as well as a therapeutic mode of practising mental hygiene.
Homeopathy assumes that body and mind are dynamically interconnected and that both directly influence each other. This acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of body and mind is not simply a vague, impractical concept. Homeopaths base virtually every homeopathic prescription on the physical and psychological symptoms of the sick person. Psychological symptoms often play a primary role in the selection of the correct medicine.
Homeopathy is based on the philosophy of treating the whole person based on mind, body and life force relationship. In this concept, health is considered a perfect state of harmony of functions in mind –body –life force and illness is often the result of disharmony. The disharmony can come from a dysfunction in anyone. Holistic health care believes that a dysfunction in one affects the whole person and not just that one part of the body. Holism promotes that human beings must be treated together to achieve ‘healing,’ rather than simply treating a person for a specific illness. Holistic health looks into the need of the sick and provides customized care. Understanding the patient is the cornerstone of homoeopathic health care.
Disposition, means one’s own personality or trait holds great importance in homeopathic prescribing. Aphorism 212 and 213 of organon underlies the importance of disposition in remedy selection. And it is believed that when the simillimum is administered, the changes can be noted inpatient/ person in physical and mental level. And thus, we can rectify the weakness or mal traits in the person and can promote healthy coping mechanisms. (4)
Dr. Hahnemann was the first physician in late 1700, before the birth of psychiatry or the popularity of psychology, who recognised insanity as an illness of mind and advocated its humane treatment. He evolved Homeopathy as a therapeutic system where the study of mind and its symptoms were given the at most importance and thus, he did the pioneering work in mental health care. Being the holistic science and integrated way of treatment homeopathy holds high importance in mental health and promotion of mental hygiene. (6)
- W Mental health: strengthening our response world Health Organization. August 2014. Retrieved 4 May 2014
- Organon of medicine – by Dr. S. Hahnemann, 6th edition , Edition- reprint edition 2004, Total pages- 340 Publisher- B. Jain publisher, New Delhi.