Mental Health in Modern Society

Haytham Chhilif 2019-07-07 00:00:00 Social
Mental Health in Modern Society

With a population of over 33.8 million, a solid monarchy, and a society that lives in a perpetual struggle between conservatism and modernity, and ruled by religiously inspired conventions, Morocco is a country in which the majority of the people live and abide by the religious laws described in the Quran and the Shari’a. It is considered a developing country due to its failure to host adequate numbers in terms of certain key development-defining statistics, namely, unemployment and illiteracy rates as well the Gross Domestic Product (GFD). The under-developed, non-secular, religion dependent nature of the life-style and culture constructed has proven to be less than efficient over the years. This, in turn, has sparked several problems and issues that have continually ate away at people’s abilities to lead ideal, comfortable lives. One such problem, despite a lack in its recognition, is mental health.

 

 Several surveys and research studies conducted by the Ministry of Health as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed that an alarming rate of almost 50% of the population suffers from a mental disorder. Another national survey completed in 2007 revealed that from a sample of 5600 people, 48.9% were found to suffer from mental illness while another 26.5% were diagnosed with varying degrees of depression.  Furthermore, despite the high numbers of people afflicted with different mental illnesses, treatment proves to be scarcely available in Morocco. Nevertheless, as pitiful as these numbers are, it is in a much better state compared to 30 years ago when Morocco only had a total number of 30 psychiatrists.

According to a WHO article published in 2006, 1,464 (4.9 per 100,000 inhabitants) was the overall number of human resources actively working in mental health facilities and private practice was. The sum of these numbers by profession is: 306 psychiatrists (1.02 per 100,000 inhabitants), 209 medical doctors, without specialty in psychiatry (0.70 per 100,000 inhabitants), 648 nurses (2.17 per 100,000 inhabitants), 50 psychologists (0.17 per 100,000 inhabitants), three social workers (0.01 per 100,000 inhabitants), 10 occupational therapists (0.01 per 100,000 inhabitants), and 238 other health as well as mental health workers including auxiliary staff, non-doctor/non-physician primary health care workers, health assistants, medical assistants, professional and paraprofessional psychosocial counselors (0.80 per 100,000 inhabitants).

After having witnessed the horrendous state Morocco is at, in terms of the mental health industry, one might ask the reasons why such underdevelopment is still tolerated to this day in 2019. The answer to this question can be broken down to three major reasons. The first and most basic reason is the traditionalist paradigm through which most Moroccans regard their lives and surroundings. Ever since childhood, Moroccan citizens are never taught anything about mental health. Instead, all they are taught on the topic from their surroundings, be they parents, schools, or friends, is spiritual, magical, and unnatural happenings. If a person does not behave the way normal people do, they are, thus, to be considered as either crazy or are possessed by djinns. It is this mentality in addition to the absolute lack of awareness of mental health that drives people to either remain sick for the entirety of their lives or to, ironically, seek help from the wrong people; more often than never only making matters worse. As such, most people remain reluctant from asking for help.

The under-development and carelessness that is deeply rooted into Moroccan citizens’ thought process towards this matter will most certainly lead most to ruin their lives, or worse, an early grave. This belief in the supernatural and mystical causes for mental illnesses is not strictly limited to Morocco alone. In fact, many other third world countries seem to have a large portion of their populations that share the same spiritual views. The most pertinent examples whose cases are dangerously similar to Morocco are Ghana and Nigeria.

After having established how the traditionalist paradigm affects people and their interactions with mental health, we may proceed to ask how a situation such as this one has come to be in the first place. Unlike the example of third world countries, first world countries have provided efficient counter-measures for the lack of awareness of their populations. By promoting effective secular ways of treating people diagnosed with certain mental illnesses, the people understood the importance, as well as, the lack of efficiency and dangers the supposed “spiritual healings” offer. As such, it is safe to assume that, by realizing how dangerous mental illnesses are, proper awareness can be provided which can lead the population to adopt safe and modern methods of treatment. Therefore, what third world countries that are still suffering from spiritual and traditionalist ideologies need, is a clear-cut realization of the dangers mental illness, its treatment, and lack thereof pose on the population as a whole. Nowadays, media’s reach goes beyond anything that could have been dreamt of years ago and its influence is ever-growing as well. As such, if it is properly utilized, it could allow people to understand the best course of action they ought to undergo in dire situations.

Another reason for the Moroccan status-quo concerning mental health is the stigma stuck to the term “mentally ill” in Moroccan culture, which is usually more than enough to deter many from so much as being associated with the word. The common conception most Moroccan people carry when talking about anything related to mental problems is more often than never related to the terms “crazy” or “possessed”. As such, many prefer to either deal with their problems on their own, or not deal with them at all. This is also a problem that is not limited to Morocco or even developing countries exclusively. Rather, it is a global problem with universal repercussions.

The findings acquired from this research show the dire state the Moroccan population suffers from. The strong belief in witchcraft, spiritual healing, and exorcism are clear proof that Moroccans are in critical need of awareness raising through any means possible. Any abusive or careless behavior directed towards individuals who unknowingly ended up with mental illnesses, whether due to drug abuse, trauma, or brain injury, must not suffer worse consequences. Being ridiculed, physically attacked, or disowned by loved ones are all behaviors no one deserves, be they ill or perfectly healthy. Conversely, it should be our duty as citizens to guide others and help them whenever possible, for a large portion of them are just poor people who have lost their way. With sufficient treatment and recovery, these people can perhaps find their way once more and recover as perfectly normal individuals. After all, as Colin Barnes (1991) mentions in his article “Discrimination: Disabled People and the Media”, disability is but a complex system of social constraints imposed on people with impairments by a highly discriminatory society.

 

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With a population of over 33.8 million, a solid monarchy, and a society that lives in a perpetual struggle between conservatism and modernity, and ruled by religiously inspired conventions, Morocco is a country in which the majority of the people live and abide by the religious laws described in the Quran and the Shari’a. It is considered a developing country due to its failure to host adequate numbers in terms of certain key development-defining statistics, namely, unemployment and illiteracy rates as well the Gross Domestic Product (GFD). The under-developed, non-secular, religion dependent nature of the life-style and culture constructed has proven to be less than efficient over the years. This, in turn, has sparked several problems and issues that have continually ate away at people’s abilities to lead ideal, comfortable lives. One such problem, despite a lack in its recognition, is mental health.

 Several surveys and research studies conducted by the Ministry of Health as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed that an alarming rate of almost 50% of the population suffers from a mental disorder. Another national survey completed in 2007 revealed that from a sample of 5600 people, 48.9% were found to suffer from mental illness while another 26.5% were diagnosed with varying degrees of depression.  Furthermore, despite the high numbers of people afflicted with different mental illnesses, treatment proves to be scarcely available in Morocco. Nevertheless, as pitiful as these numbers are, it is in a much better state compared to 30 years ago when Morocco only had a total number of 30 psychiatrists.

According to a WHO article published in 2006, 1,464 (4.9 per 100,000 inhabitants) was the overall number of human resources actively working in mental health facilities and private practice was. The sum of these numbers by profession is: 306 psychiatrists (1.02 per 100,000 inhabitants), 209 medical doctors, without specialty in psychiatry (0.70 per 100,000 inhabitants), 648 nurses (2.17 per 100,000 inhabitants), 50 psychologists (0.17 per 100,000 inhabitants), three social workers (0.01 per 100,000 inhabitants), 10 occupational therapists (0.01 per 100,000 inhabitants), and 238 other health as well as mental health workers including auxiliary staff, non-doctor/non-physician primary health care workers, health assistants, medical assistants, professional and paraprofessional psychosocial counselors (0.80 per 100,000 inhabitants).

After having witnessed the horrendous state Morocco is at, in terms of the mental health industry, one might ask the reasons why such underdevelopment is still tolerated to this day in 2019. The answer to this question can be broken down to three major reasons. The first and most basic reason is the traditionalist paradigm through which most Moroccans regard their lives and surroundings. Ever since childhood, Moroccan citizens are never taught anything about mental health. Instead, all they are taught on the topic from their surroundings, be they parents, schools, or friends, is spiritual, magical, and unnatural happenings. If a person does not behave the way normal people do, they are, thus, to be considered as either crazy or are possessed by djinns. It is this mentality in addition to the absolute lack of awareness of mental health that drives people to either remain sick for the entirety of their lives or to, ironically, seek help from the wrong people; more often than never only making matters worse. As such, most people remain reluctant from asking for help.

The under-development and carelessness that is deeply rooted into Moroccan citizens’ thought process towards this matter will most certainly lead most to ruin their lives, or worse, an early grave. This belief in the supernatural and mystical causes for mental illnesses is not strictly limited to Morocco alone. In fact, many other third world countries seem to have a large portion of their populations that share the same spiritual views. The most pertinent examples whose cases are dangerously similar to Morocco are Ghana and Nigeria.

After having established how the traditionalist paradigm affects people and their interactions with mental health, we may proceed to ask how a situation such as this one has come to be in the first place. Unlike the example of third world countries, first world countries have provided efficient counter-measures for the lack of awareness of their populations. By promoting effective secular ways of treating people diagnosed with certain mental illnesses, the people understood the importance, as well as, the lack of efficiency and dangers the supposed “spiritual healings” offer. As such, it is safe to assume that, by realizing how dangerous mental illnesses are, proper awareness can be provided which can lead the population to adopt safe and modern methods of treatment. Therefore, what third world countries that are still suffering from spiritual and traditionalist ideologies need, is a clear-cut realization of the dangers mental illness, its treatment, and lack thereof pose on the population as a whole. Nowadays, media’s reach goes beyond anything that could have been dreamt of years ago and its influence is ever-growing as well. As such, if it is properly utilized, it could allow people to understand the best course of action they ought to undergo in dire situations.

Another reason for the Moroccan status-quo concerning mental health is the stigma stuck to the term “mentally ill” in Moroccan culture, which is usually more than enough to deter many from so much as being associated with the word. The common conception most Moroccan people carry when talking about anything related to mental problems is more often than never related to the terms “crazy” or “possessed”. As such, many prefer to either deal with their problems on their own, or not deal with them at all. This is also a problem that is not limited to Morocco or even developing countries exclusively. Rather, it is a global problem with universal repercussions.

The findings acquired from this research show the dire state the Moroccan population suffers from. The strong belief in witchcraft, spiritual healing, and exorcism are clear proof that Moroccans are in critical need of awareness raising through any means possible. Any abusive or careless behavior directed towards individuals who unknowingly ended up with mental illnesses, whether due to drug abuse, trauma, or brain injury, must not suffer worse consequences. Being ridiculed, physically attacked, or disowned by loved ones are all behaviors no one deserves, be they ill or perfectly healthy. Conversely, it should be our duty as citizens to guide others and help them whenever possible, for a large portion of them are just poor people who have lost their way. With sufficient treatment and recovery, these people can perhaps find their way once more and recover as perfectly normal individuals. After all, as Colin Barnes (1991) mentions in his article “Discrimination: Disabled People and the Media”, disability is but a complex system of social constraints imposed on people with impairments by a highly discriminatory society.