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Mental Health and Abuse.

What, if any is the link between abuse and Mental Health?

Image from WHO files

Be it domestic, child, adult or even the ever increasing, same-sex abuse, one has to look at the link between the abuse and mental health.

Firstly, let’s look at what is classed as mental health. To the every day person it’s when you have lost your marbles (these results are based on a qualified social worker addressing a first year MASW class), mad, crazy, depressed and the most common, ‘not with it.’


According to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary, mental health is:

“Emotional, behavioral, and social maturity or normality; the absence of a mental or behavioral disorder; a state of psychological well-being in which one has achieved a satisfactory integration of one’s instinctual drives acceptable to both oneself and one’s social milieu; an appropriate balance of love, work, and leisure pursuits.”

According to theWorld Health Organization-WHO mental health is:

“… a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

These by far differ from the everyday definitions. Depression is said to be very high on the mental health scale and 1 in 4 persons will experience some form of depression in their lifetime, with one in six will suffer some form of mental health each week!

So what is the link between abuse and mental health? Bearing in mind depression and anxiety are related and it is believed if you suffer one you are very likely to suffer from the other.


Abuse includes domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, date rape, honour killing, forced marriages and sexual assault. Child abuse can be physical, neglect or emotional, as with domestic violence or abuse  which can be can also be financial, social  and/or mental. It’s not only bruises and this is where the attention of this article lies. Not all abuse can be seen!

Mental abuse is where the abuser, male or female, uses words, rather than fists and this is the abuse that stays with one for ever.

Angela(not real name) is a survivor of domestic abuse. She shares her story with Africaneye:


It not always physical!


”The abuse started almost as soon as we married. I grew up in a violent home, so I knew the signs but I was so desperate to make the marriage work that I endured. A slap here, a push there. I thought it was ok but then the mental torture started. I was told daily I was worthless and no other man would dare look at me. He would phone me ever 5-10 minutes. I would literally be bombarded with calls and when I eventually picked up, he would reign abuse on me, accusing me of being with another man. I wasn’t.”

She continues, after a long break and a good cry.

”I began to feel worthless. I stopped taking pride in my appearance and I would stay in bed all day. I stopped eating properly. I had no one to talk to as he had alienated me from all my friends and family. I felt shut in and the final straw came when I knew I had to leave him, dead or alive” She breathes deeply and sobs: “ I don’t know how I could be so stupid to let it happen, I just woke up one day and found I had no friends, no family and no one to talk to. It’s a scary feeling but yeah, it’s real. Anyway I threatened to kill him or myself. It was then he knew I was serious and we parted”

It was almost a year later that she discovered she was suffering from clinical depression. “All I wanted to do was stay in bed. I began to wonder why I really left him and maybe I would be better of going back (she smile), hell no! Anyway, I enrolled on a course and then I realised I was clinically depressed. I didn’t go and see a doctor but I do remember speaking to my new found friends. I went on to establish a forum for women who may be going through the same thing, who had no one to talk to. It gave me an outlet for my emotions and also enabled me not only to share my experience but to enable other suffers to know it’s not right and they don’t have to suffer alone”


Mental health is top of PM’agend

“As a society we have seen mental illness as secondary to physical health needs and failed to grasp the toll it can take not just on those we love but the nation as a whole. I believe that to truly demonstrate the values of compassion and progress that we as a society share, we must transform the way we think about and treat mental illness. As Prime Minister I am determined to employ the power of Government to change the way we deal with mental health problems across the country and at every stage of life.”

She has set the ball rolling but is it enough. According to statistics, the number of people suffering from one form of mental health has risen constantly and is more common amongst women.

Yes, men do suffer abuse, heartache, unemployment and redundancy, pushing them into depression, yet the link between abuse and mental health is also on the increase and needs to be addressed. We can’t just tell people to “pull yourself together, it’s real! It’s not just one being lazy or moping. Mental health is real and it’s about time it is taken serious.



About Sola Doyle

Sola Doyle
I’m a seasoned journalist, trained at College of Journalism, Fleet Street London and developed by Vanguard Media, I have a Doctorate in Education along with an LLB, Early Years and Social work Qualifications. I am passionate about all forms of abuse, especially domestic and early age abuse. I believe that the best way to keep the brain alive is to read and the best way to improve your reading is to write.

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