The association of psychosocial health problems with functional disabilities among community members in rural Cambodia

The association of psychosocial health problems with functional disabilities among community members in rural Cambodia

According to the World Health Organization, there is no single official definition of mental health. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how mental health is defined. In general, most experts agree that "mental health" and "mental illness" are not opposites. In other words, the absence of a recognized mental disorder is not necessarily an indicator of sound mental health. There is no clear-cut line between mental health and mental illness since the wide range of people's emotions, feelings and thinking may be scaled differently according to an individuals' culture, tradition and in the environment where they live.

In Cambodia, people experienced civil wars, genocide of the Pol Pot regime, and live in poor socio-political conditions, from which hundreds of thousands of survivors are facing a great deal with the impacts of these devastating events. They live in fear, isolation and no hope with lack of support. Studies which were conducted among Cambodian refugees or Cambodians residing in foreign countries revealed that those who experienced traumatic events during the civil wars and genocide of the Pol Pot regime have had significant problems related to psychosocial health such as PTSD, depression, anxiety and somatoform disorders. Reflecting from the above findings, survivors living in the country are assumed to have more problems. As the healthcare system in Cambodia has not reached the desired level yet, these problems have been left untreated and consequently, some people have turned to alcohol, masked their distress by violence, and exhibited stressful thoughts through psychosomatic symptoms. Above all they have not been able to take care of themselves and their families.

This paper showed a large positive correlation coefficient between psychosocial health problems and dysfunctional abilities among rural community members. This relationship would explain that mental health was closely linked with the performance of daily activities including creational activities and occupational tasks. Therefore, at a policy level, this finding would give insights to policy decision makers to be aware and value the importance of mental health of the people, particularly rural community members. Improving people's mental health and well-being is the key to increasing their functional abilities, productivity and to lift them out of poverty. However, further research needs to be conducted among a larger sample size and different social classes in order to generalize the findings to the country's population. A second round of interviews will also be necessary to compare the relationship of these two variables before and after the interventions.

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