Being mentally healthy isn’t something that is talked about a lot by people, especially not when you compare it to the number of conversations out there discussing physical health. Mental health however, is just as — if not more — important than physical health. Why? Because it determines whether you are able to experience joy, be successful in your endeavors and yes, even maintain a physically healthy body.
You see, your mind controls everything you do, everything you are, how motivated you are to do the things you love or need to do, etc. Because of this, if your mind is not in a good state of health — no matter what the reason — the rest of your life tends to head in a negative direction as well.
Unfortunately however, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 43.8 million adults in the U.S alone experience some form of poor mental health each year, and nearly 1 in 5 children (between the ages of 13-18), experience some sort of severe mental disorder.
Clearly something here is wrong. So why isn’t mental health taken more seriously?
Well, mainly it comes down to years of mental health issues being stigmatized, both by individuals and the health profession as a whole.
When it comes to individual people for example, having issues with your mental health tends to be seen as being weak minded, crazy or simply attention seeking. Rarely does someone suffering from a mental illness or disorder receive sympathy. In fact, they are more often told to simply “try to change their attitude” or “stop bringing the other people around them down”.
This in turn leads to self-doubt hate and denial, which then often leads to self medicating (i.e. substance abuse, physical harm, or even suicide), in order to cope with the feelings and/or issues not being addressed. It can also lead to a build up of emotion which can be released in ways that are harmful to others, via violence and/or mental abuse.
Then, there’s the fact that mental health isn’t taken very seriously in the world of health professionals either.
For example, recent studies have shown that, while mental afflictions such as depression are diagnosed on a regular basis, they are not taken nearly as seriously when it comes to their treatment as physical ailments (such as diabetes or asthma) are. In fact, according to said study, while doctors regularly fallow up with patients diagnosed with physical ailments, they have been found to be significantly less likely to both follow up with patients diagnosed with a mental affliction, as well as less like to “engage in strategies of care” with said patient. This in turn translates into poor care for the individuals in question.
That said, in order to see all of this change, seeking mental health help will need to be normalized. The stigma needs to be dropped and taking care of one’s mind needs to become a priority. If society as a whole can’t find a way to do this, people will continue to suffer, harming both themselves and those around them, never reaching their full potential to contribute to the world.
In order to institute change though, each person must play their part. Whether that be by simply listening when a friend says they are suffering, by working to bring attention to the issues via policy change and the spreading of information, or simply by being brave enough to get help if you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to handle what is going on inside your mind.