BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Social Inclusion of Youth with Mental Health Condition



Social inclusion is related to mental health in that its absence can lead to poor mental health, and poor mental health can also result in social exclusion. People with mental health problems are often stigmatized and excluded socially in the community… this should not be the case. Given their condition, they need all the support they can get from everyone around them, especially in their community.

Social inclusion is a phrase used to describe the extent to which people are carried along or feel engaged and involved in the activities within their community, based on their choices and preferences. To be socially included means to actively participate, have a sense of belonging, be accepted for whom one is, be valued, have significant roles and have social relationships. It is possible to be born, grow, work, school and live in a community without being, or feeling socially included- especially for people with poor mental health conditions. Social inclusion is a significant social determinant of health which increases the likelihood of happiness, healthiness, peace of mind and longevity. Simultaneously, the lack or absence of social inclusion results in depression, isolation, poor self-esteem and poor health- particularly poor mental health. Mentally challenged people experience life very differently as they are often ignored and do not have any “sense of presence or belonging” in the community. They may also lack access to information, facilities and activities they need, including education and healthcare- which in turn results in lack of opportunities to work, play, learn and participate socially or develop social relationships with people in the community.

Mental health consists of, and influences various components of an individual including the emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It determines one’s thoughts, feelings, action and participation as well as how a person handles stress, relates to others and makes choices. Everyone- including children, adolescents and adults, can be affected by mental health at any stage of life. Factors that affect mental health include genetic composition, life experiences, such as trauma or abuse and family history of mental health problems. Broad symptoms that may suggest an impending mental health problem include poor eating habit, low energy, numb feeling, unexplained aches, hopeless or helpless feelings, excessive use of drugs and alcohol, confusion, forgetfulness, anxiety, anger, worry, severe mood swings, hallucination, hearing voices, self-harm or the thought of it and fear.

Social inclusion can help youth with already existing mental health condition lead a healthier and happier life. It allows them reach their full potential, cope with the stress, work productively, participate and contribute meaningfully to their communities- irrespective of their condition. Connecting with people (social inclusion), in addition to inspiring positive thoughts, physical activity, sleeping and skill development are some common ways to support youths with mental health conditions. Since social inclusion is crucial for positive mental health, it is very important to address the barriers and challenges that reinforce it. Various pathways to social inclusion exist, and of particular significance is recreation due to the meaningful connections that recreation can facilitate.

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