When gauging personal health and well-being, it is not just the physical state of the body that must be examined. Since 1949, May has been recognized as the Month of Mental Health with the goal of increasing awareness about the importance of considering this vital aspect of a satisfying and fulfilling life.1
While mental illness is sometimes difficult to recognize, it touches the lives of many individuals today. According to statistics, most mental health conditions begin during adolescence, and over 75% of mental health conditions have fully-matured by the age of 24. Because this can be such a tumultuous time of life, extra attention to detail and early-intervention can be especially important in preventing the onset of or reducing the severity of mental health concerns.
Mental health awareness is crucial all throughout adulthood as well. One in five adults today suffers from mental illness and 1 in 17 live with more complex mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, severe depression, or schizophrenia.2
What Is Mental Health and Illness?
Just like physical illness can describe a wide range of conditions, mental illness also refers to many conditions that affect a person’s mood, thoughts, feelings, and even behavior. These conditions will eventually begin to taint experiences, affect relations, and reduce functionality in simple day-to-day affairs. Even people with the exact same conditions and same diagnosis may experience their mental illness differently.
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Experts on mental illness inform us that these conditions are not usually the result of a single event. There can be several factors contributing factors. For instance, stressful home or work environments can lower the defenses of the mind and leave a person less resilient to trauma.
Furthermore, there are biochemical processes dictating moods and mental functions that can be thrown off by illness, poor nutrition, and genetic factors. Studies show that the very foods you eat regularly can greatly affect the psychiatry of the brain.3
Optimal mental health makes the mind more resilient to stress and improves cognitive performance. When the mind is in good health, the entire being is able to achieve higher potential and be more productive in personal relationships and even community goals.
Despite overwhelming evidence supporting the benefits of good mental health and the great progress being made in developing treatment options to suit every individual, mental health conditions can go untreated for much longer than physical conditions.
This can be caused by a large number of misconceptions and misunderstandings about the mind and where to go when looking for support. There has also been some social stigma surrounding these conditions. In today’s fast-paced world where mental prowess and capacity are greatly emphasized, some people will attempt to “grin and bear” the rigors of mental illness rather than seek help, fearing they may appear “weak” or “incapable” to their peers and superiors.
Luckily, great progress has been made in dispelling these ways of thinking. Today, we understand that depression or stress is as natural and treatable as any other physical condition and getting help can keep small issues from becoming more severe.
Increasing awareness of mental health means approaching these conditions with all the understanding and support appropriate for an ailment of any sort. Greater well-being for the population as a whole will be achieved when we realize that mental illness is a relatable and common condition. This perspective will encourage more people to attend to their mental health and seek support or treatment if necessary.
Begin with Yourself
The best way anyone of us can contribute to good relationships, functioning communities, and society as a whole is by addressing mental health. Sometimes, people are reluctant to spend time addressing their personal needs for fear of neglecting the needs of those around them. Although learning how to properly address your own needs can appear selfish, it will allow you to better balance your mental, physical, and emotional resources to address your own needs and the needs of others.
Change Negative Stigmas
Another good way to promote mental health awareness while also retraining your mind for a better view of yourself and your world is to consider how pervasive stigmas about mental health can be. This often stems from references and terms used frequently in pop-culture and the media. As mentioned, stigmas and misunderstandings play a primary role in the reluctance some people may have to seek proper treatment.
Communicating honestly, freely, and respectfully about mental health conditions can help engender awareness in yourself and those around you.
Cultivate Mental Health Awareness Around You
As society changes its perspective on mental health, individuals affected by mental health conditions may feel more confident about seeking mental health support. This includes seeking beneficial treatment from professionals, as well as implementing mentally healthy habits into day-to-day life.
No one wants to feel alone in their struggle. Sharing the experiences you have had lets others know that mental health is a relatable topic. Talking about the effects of mental illness and the benefits of treatment is a great way to encourage others to consider supporting their own mental health.
Help Those in Need
According to statistics, one out of five people can face mental illness in their lifetime. This could be a friend, a co-worker, a relative, or a loved one. By taking the time to increase your understanding of mental health, the warning signs of illness, and the symptoms of mental conditions, you may be able to offer individuals direction of where to seek support in a time of need.
The importance of maintaining good mental health is essential for a happy productive life and good physical health. If you have doubts about your mental health, take time to talk with someone whose recommendations you trust. This usually means seeking help from a good friend first before looking to support from a qualified mental health professional.
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