Everyone is mentally ill

Almost everyone gets mentally ill at some point

"Mentally ill" - that is actually "normal" in society. Just as almost everyone falls ill with influenza at one point or another, in the course of their life they will also show symptoms of a mental illness, according to the chief physician of the Psychosocial Services Vienna (PSD), Georg Psota. "The distinction between physical and mental illness is a virtual one." The stigmatization of those affected is just as harmful as the disease itself.

"The importance of mental illness for the individual lies in the fear of social consequences, fear of financial consequences and fear of the existential consequences," said the specialist in geriatric psychiatry. Media headlines such as "Crazy shoots children playing" or "Crazy puts the subway to a standstill" are an expression of stigmatization and "certainly not helpful" when it comes to informing the public about mental illnesses.

Above all - according to Psota - mentally ill people are often seen as "the others", a dividing line drawn from those affected. The statistical data looks different: In the leading industrialized countries, the five diseases with the greatest burden of disease are currently depression, coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, alcohol addiction and cardiovascular disease. This means that mental illnesses are not the "sufferings of others", but those illnesses that should be at the top of the priorities in society as a whole.

Many great minds are mentally ill

The greatest "monsters" in history were not mentally ill, as Psota said human history would show. On the other hand, many of the literally "greatest minds" were clearly plagued by psychiatric illnesses: for example Abraham Lincoln and George Washington (both severe depression), Winston Churchill (bipolar depression; manic depressive) and Ludwig van Beethoven (alcoholic).

"'Mentally ill' can only be differentiated from 'mentally healthy' by defining it," emphasized Gabriele Sachs, head of the Wagner-Jauregg State Neurological Clinic in Linz. The causes are multifactorial. Society, the world of work and politics should invest accordingly in prevention and treatment in order to minimize the negative effects.

In any case, this is evident from the data presented by the Viennese social medicine specialist Bernhard Schwarz (Karl Landsteiner Institute for Health Economics): "Mental illnesses are among the most common diagnoses in Europe, especially among people of working age."

According to Schwarz, affective disorders are particularly important, including depression with a frequency of ten to 20 percent, anxiety disorders (14 to 25 percent), adjustment disorders including burnout (20 to 50 percent) and addictions (15 to 27 percent) ) counting. (APA / red, derStandard.at, February 21, 2013)