- Aug 12, 2008
- Southend on sea
http://www.anxietyinsights.info/loneliness_a_harsh_reality_for_many_with_mental_illness.htmA research study by mental health charity SANE Australia reveals people affected by mental illness pay a high price when it comes to relationships and social contact, with the study showing half have no close relationship with another person.
The research, conducted between September and December 2008, focused on the emotional and physical relationships of people living with a mental illness, the consequences of this for their lives and what can be done about it.
The most disturbing result was the impact of mental illness on personal relationships, with lmost half having no friends, wanting to, yet struggling to connect with others. Physical intimacy, which includes hugging and touching others, was rare for many. In fact - astonishingly - almost one in six had not touched or been touched by another person for more than 12 months.
The study found the numbers of respondents who had:
• No close relationship
(General community with no close relationship 49%
• Not touched or been touched by another person
for 12 months
• No sexual contact in last 12 months 35%
SANE Australia Executive Director Barbara Hocking says extreme social isolation is known to damage mental health, yet it is something many people with mental illness have to endure.
"Not only are many people with mental illness dealing with their symptoms and associated problems such as poverty, they are leading isolated lives and often have no partner or even friends to share their lives," Ms Hocking said. This impedes their recovery.
"While governments are promoting social inclusion, these findings highlight the very real need for immediate, specific action to ensure such basic human needs for social contact are not being ignored."
Sexual health and intimacy also emerged as areas of concern for respondents:
• Had not discussed the issue with their doctor
or health worker
• Did not know enough about sexual health 65%
• Not receiving routine health checks (e.g. pap tests,
Ms Hocking says these figures reflect the general poor physical health care provided to people regarded all too often as solely "mental health patients."
The key recommendations of the report are:
* Promotion of social inclusion: recovery-focused rehabilitation programs, to improve confidence, communication and social skills
* Support to develop relationships: education and training in how to discuss mental illness and its effect on emotional, physical and sexual intimacy
* Improved sex education: mental illness often starts in late teens, disruptinglearning of life skills and education. More practical education about sexuality andrelated issues needed
* Sexual health checks: health professionals need incentives to provide regularbreast screening, pap smears, STD testing, prostate checks and routine tests.
SANE is calling on government agencies at all levels to improve opportunities for those affected to close relationships with others and improve their capacity for recovery.
Australia based research but still relevant elsewhere.