Mental disorder in a broad sense is the state of mind that is different from a normal and healthy one. Mental disorder implies changes and disorders in the sphere of feelings, thinking, behavior, and along with that almost always there are changes in the somatic functions of the body. Creation of successful psychological and pharmacological treatment is possible under condition of cooperation of medicine and psychology and with consideration of mental disorders from different points of view. According to WHO (2010), every fourth or fifth person in the world has a mental or behavioral disorder. The causes of many mental disorders are not fully understood. There are a number of signs and symptoms at occurrence of which experts recommend seeking professional help. In this paper we shall focus on such mental disorders as schizophrenia, insomnia and borderline personality disorders.
Schizophrenia is a polymorphic mental disorder or group of mental disorders associated with the collapse of the thought processes and emotional reactions. Schizophrenic disorders in general are distinguished by fundamental characteristic disorders of thinking and perception, as well as inadequate or reduced affect. Currently, the following symptoms of schizophrenia are distinguished (Sims, 2002): productive symptoms (mostly delusions and hallucinations), negative symptoms (decreased energy potential, apathy), cognitive disorders (disorders of thinking, perception, attention, etc.). A person with schizophrenia may experience disorganized thinking and speech, their unordinary character, auditory hallucinations, delusions. For several reasons the disease is often accompanied by social exclusion, it goes together with impaired social cognition and paranoid symptoms associated with delusions and hallucinations, and also negative symptoms, such as apathy. In rare cases, the patient may remain silent, freezing in strange postures, or, on the contrary, fall into a state of aimless excitement. None of the symptoms taken in isolation is sufficient for the diagnosis of schizophrenia, since it may accompany other pathological conditions. Schizophrenia symptoms must be present for at least a month on the background of the functioning disorder lasting for at least six months.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by insufficient length or poor quality of sleep, or a combination of these phenomena over a significant period of time. The absolute duration (hours) of sleep is not crucial, since the duration of sleep that is normal and sufficient can be very different for different people. General classification symptoms necessary for diagnosis are as follows: complaints about difficulty of falling asleep, sleep preservation difficulties and/or poor quality of sleep; sleep disorders are observed at least 3 times a week for a month; concerns about insomnia and its consequences (at night and during the day); observed distress or disorder of social and professional functioning caused by inadequate duration and/or quality of sleep (Wilson, 2008). Chronic lack of sleep causes oxidative stress that negatively affects the learning process, short-term and long-term memory.
Borderline personality disorder is a personality disorder characterized by disregard for social norms, impulsivity, aggression and very limited ability to form attachments. Personality disorder usually attracts attention by gross disparity between behavior and the prevailing social norms and is characterized by the following symptoms (at least three symptoms must be present at the same time): callous indifference to the feelings of others; gross and persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social rules and obligations; failure to maintain the relationship in the absence of difficulties in their establishment; a very low ability to withstand frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence; the inability to feel guilt and benefit from the life experience, particularly from punishment; expressed tendency to blame others, or to put forward plausible explanation for own behavior that leads the subject into conflict with society (WHO, 2010). As an additional symptom there may be present constant irritability.
Mental disorders, regardless of their nature, are always caused by disorders of the brain, but the causes of many mental disorders are not fully understood. They may be caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors ranging from heredity to stressful events. Resistance to mental disorders depends on the physical characteristics of the individual and on the overall mental development. Different people react differently to emotional distress and problems: while some people overcome failures easily, others may develop psychological disorders.
In order to intervene with people to have different disorders, their supervisors or coworkers can use psychological techniques that are useful in both mental and physical problems, such as conducting interviews/discussions or doing the exercises. The main objectives of using these techniques is to alleviate the suffering experienced by the person with disorders in the form of anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts, sexual problems, and so on, and to assist in getting rid of unfavorable traits and behaviors.
It has been shown that an important obstacle to the rehabilitation of patients with schizophrenia is their social stigmatization. For that reason 24 hours a day interpersonal phenomenological interventions by non-professional staff, usually without neuroleptic drug treatment, in the context of numerous, similar to home, quiet, supportive, protecting and tolerant social environment can be crucial for helping people who suffer from this disorder (Calton et al., 2008). When intervening with people who have schizophrenia it is important that their supervisors or coworkers use the above mentioned approach.
With regard to insomnia, the intervention methods have to depend on the cause of insomnia. If the cause of insomnia is not determined, the supervisor or the coworker should recommend the person suffering from insomnia to consult the doctor who will prescribe some treatment using non-drug methods and/or drugs (based on symptoms). In addition to that the supervisor or a coworker can discuss with the person different aspects of sleep hygiene, suggest keeping a 'sleep diary' (which will allow identifying the behavioral patterns that affect adversely the quality of sleep). It will also be appropriate to suggest various relaxation techniques, cognitive therapy, therapy with sleep restriction, etc.
People with borderline personality disorders hardly ever admit that they have some problems and they are unable to cooperate with people who try to help them by using various types of psychological and/or psychiatric therapy. For that reason while intervening with people who have borderline personality disorder the supervisor or coworker must be very tender and caring in order not to offend such person causing him/her to show indifference or aggression. Sometimes there are cases when people with personality disorders start to feel that the relationships between other people are apparently built on different principles than theirs, and as a consequence of a lack of something important they become more interested in discussing this with other people. In such a case, a supervisor or a coworker may try discussing interpersonal relationships with the person havingh disorders, but it will be even better to suggest that person to consult a psychologist – there is a good change that he/she will listen and actually go there.
The organization should provide comfortable working conditions for its workers because continuous stress, fear, irritation, dissatisfaction, etc. can cause the development of certain mental disorders. The organization management must ensure that the work entrusted to people with mental disorders is not too difficult (so that they can cope with it without stress) and does not require much responsibility (at least that no one’s life depends on it). Although people with disorders should be encouraged to undergo treatment, they should not be treated as abnormal or different compared to other workers who do not have any disorders. The top management has to develop culture, ethics and values within the organization in order to ensure that.
It is important to remember that mental disorders, even in severe form, in principle, may be treatable. Often the difficulty is that people tend to deny the existence of mental disorder because of the fear of it or because of existing social misunderstanding of the disease.
Calton T., Ferriter M., Huband N., & Spandler H. (2008). A systematic review of the Soteria paradigm for the treatment of people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin 34 (1): 181–92. DOI:10.1093/schbul/sbm047
Sims A. (2002). Symptoms in the mind: an introduction to descriptive psychopathology. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
WHO. (2010). ICD-10: Clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines: Disorders of adult personality and behavior.
Wilson, J.F. (2008). Insomnia. Annals of Internal Medicine. 148: ITC1. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-148-1-200801010-01001.