A PAPER PRESENTATION ON COUNSELLING FOR MENTAL HEALTH OF THE AGED AMONG FAMILIES IN AKWA IBOM STATE: AN IMPLICATION FOR FAMILY LIFE
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This study investigated counselling for mental health of the aged among families in Akwa Ibom State with implications for family life. The concepts of counselling, mental health, factors affecting mental health, benefits of mental health counselling among the aged, ways of promoting mental health among families, counsellng the aged in the families for positive mental health, common presenting concerns among the aged and barriers to counselling the aged were elaborated in this study. The study also throws more light on the needs of the aged among families and implication of counselling among the aged, some specific issues of the aged and the counsellors’ role. It has been discovered from the study that counselling plays a pivotal role in promoting the mental health of the aged among families. It enable the aged among families to cope with mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or eating disorder and difficult self emotion such as low self esteem or anger. Based on this background, counselling for mental health promotion related to older people should be strengthen in order to promote the quality of life and public health and counsellors should ensure that older age groups are properly counsel to improve their mental health condition.
Mental health counselling is a formal, purposeful partnership between a client and a mental health professional. There is a global movement towards successful aging and a model of care aimed at maximizing health, wellbeing, functional capacity and social participation in old age. Mental health is more than lack of mental disorder. The positive dimension of mental health is rooted in a state of complete physical, mental and social well being. Mental health includes subjective wellbeing, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, integrational dependence and recognition of the ability to realize intellectual emotional potentials. Mental health connate a state of well-being whereby individuals recognize their abilities, are able to cope with the normal stress of life, work productivity, fruitfully and make a contribution to their community. It is about enhancing the competencies of the individual and communities and enables them to achieve their self determined goals.
Counselling have the ability to improve the wellbeing, functioning and promote social rehabilitation in older adults, with health problems such as dementia, depression, and frailty among others (Salisman, 2006). Counselling is the process of building relationship with individuals that empowers them to accomplish mental health and wellness. Counselling help to promote mental health across the lifespan and prevent mental illness among the aged. Counselling is a major component of the mental health care which is used to improve the mental health of the aged among families. The aged among families needs effective counselling for their mental health. This will enable them to gain increasing control over their health and improve it. Effective counselling is related to improving the quality of life of the aged among families and the potential for good health. Counselling is a major tool that helps to protect health and support positive mental health among the aged. Such protection according to World Health Organisation (WHO, 2010); facilitates resistance to disease, minimizes and delays the emergence of disability and promote more rapid recovery from illness. It also prevents the development of anxiety disorder and reduces depressive symptoms and conduct problem among the aged. Cross national research must continue to develop methodologies and improve implementation and effectiveness of counselling among the aged in families. This is crucial to establish a sustainable and cost-effective infrastructure that would enable counsellors to facilitate better mental health counselling and quality of life in old age.
Keywords: Counselling, Mental Health, The need of the aged among families, barrier to counselling the aged and implication of Counselling among the Aged.
Concept of Counselling
Counselling is a way of helping people to solve their own emotional, social, personal or interpersonal problems. In counselling, a professional counsellor guides the client to look at problems objectively. The counsellor takes the client through different dimensions of the problem for the client to understand the situation. She assists the client to know his strengths and weaknesses without being judgemental (Khodaei, 2008). Counselling involves the exploration of problems in an environment that is, both supportive and objective. It also involves the identification of alternative courses of action that might be needed to solve a problem. Counsellor suggests strategies for managing and altering patterns of upsetting thoughts, feelings and behaviour (Peter, 2012).
Counselling is basically a process in which the professional helper either assists one individual or group of people to explore his/their personal issues or problems and to find solution to them. Egbochukwu (2009) views counselling as a face-to-face situation in which the professional helper by virtue of her training and skills helps the client to face, perceive, clarify solve and resolve his adjustment problems and issues. The counselling process is thus, a relationship because it involves interaction between the counsellors and the counselee or an interaction in a group, where the counsellor is an expert. It is also a helping relation, the outcome of which is self-growth for the counsellee. The self-growth may be realized in the form of a new awareness of an aspect of one’s behaviour or a concrete change from an undesirable one.
Counselling can be incorporated into mental health of the aged through effective counselling strategy. Using effective counselling strategy such as face to face counselling helps the aged to address and resolve specific problems, make decision, cope with situations, working through feelings and inner conflict and also improving relationships with the others. Effective counselling helps to provide support to and treatment among aged and families with regard to mental health. Counseling enables the aged in each family to provide insight into issues related to the mental health service provision within collaborative inter professional health care setting. According to Jefferies (2013), counseling plays an important role in promoting the mental health of the aged among families, prevent mental illness, foster the recovery and wellbeing of the aged living with the mental health problems, reduce disparities in risk factors and provides access to mental health services. There is an increasing need for counselling to be provided among the aged. This help to improve the mental health of the aged, enable the professional helpers to provide the majority of the mental health care for the aged among families, and also provide solutions to their mental health problems.
Concept of Mental Health
Mental health is a vital part of the total health of an individual. This implies that health is a phenomenon which involves the combination of other dimensions of health. Traditionally, the other dimensions implicated are the physical and social dimensions. According to Jones (2012), health is a quality resulting from the total functioning of the individual in environment that empowers him to achieve a personally satisfying and socially useful life. Health is that state or quality which enables an individual to face up to crisis, carry out his daily responsibilities efficiently and relate to other persons effectively. William (2012:5) describes health as, a quality which enables one to live most and serve best. Health as a quality of life is a result of one’s total functioning within his environment.
This definition of Williams incorporates perception of health such as: the unity of the individual, a quality of life, an achievement and an achievement of socially useful life.
Mental health is central to the overall health and wellbeing of the individual. It includes the ability to manage the daily challenges and social interaction of life and also have strong impact on the physical health.
Mental health as described by John (2011), is a quality of health resulting from the satisfaction of one’s needs through personal and social adaptations to one’s environment. Mental health has also been described as a concept that includes both emotional stability and maturity of character and also the strength to withstand stress inherent in living in today’s society without undue physical or psychological discomfort. Mental health also implies the ability to judge reality accurately and to see things in terms of their long range rather than short term values (William, 2012). Counselling plays a significant role on the mental health of the aged among families (William 2012). It determines an individual’s level of living in the families and the quality of life. The concept of life quality implies that what is important is not necessarily longitivity, (that is, how long one lives), but how well one lives – how trustful and how satisfying, has the existence been.
Factors Affecting Mental Health
The foundation of mental health include one’s total make up as a biological organism, the influences of the society in which one finds himself, the interaction process between one and the society, the experiences by which one influence other persons and the ways in which one is influenced by others. These factors include:
- Hereditary which is a force that provides the raw materials and the potential of one as an individual. It sets the limit to a person’s mental health.
- Physical which contributes significantly to a person’s ability to cope and become a well adjusted individual. A person’s mental vitality is improved by that person’s physical health.
- Social relates to a person’s environment and the interactional process i.e. a person’s interaction with his environment. Some particular social factors that influence the development of mental health are a person’s home and family, a person’s school or college and the person’s community.
- Stress is also a factor which affects mental health. The stress could be environmental or internal. Environmental stress is a stress that comes from the environment. It is a deviation in the environmental conditions from species of optima. It is a pressure on the environment caused by human activities such as generation of pollution or by natural event such as occurrence of draught. Internal stress is a stress that leads to feelings of depression and anxiety. Internal stress includes thoughts or behaviours which come from one psychological mindset or expectation. This play an important role in affecting the mental health of the aged adversely.
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