“What Mental Health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversations.”
Mental health is a subject that has been conveniently unheeded and sidetracked, so to say. It is one of the most crucial aspects of human well-being and needs equal, or rather extra caring and cushioning, considering the delicacy it features. It is usually not out-rightly talked about, due to the stigma and slur attached to it. To worsen this sad reality, mental illness is not even cognized as a grave and important problem, by a significant number of people, consequently leaving unattended. According to a WHO report, nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional. This ignorance directly affects and creates an imbalance in the overall well-being.
The WHO Constitution states: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Mental health is an optimistic idea related to the emotional and social well-being of individuals and the public. Maintaining good mental health is more than just the absence of illness, it’s rather a state of overall well-being wherein an individual discovers his/her own abilities, can work productively, can deal with the normal life stress, and is able to make a contribution towards the community.
The two most common mental health conditions are:
Anxiety Disorders – Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder (panic attacks), generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobias. More than 18% of adults suffer from some type anxiety disorder every year.
Mood Disorders – Depression and bipolar depression are the most common form of mood disorders. On average, each year nearly 10% of adults face problems and difficulties in regulating mood.
Numerous negative connotations are associated with mental health, which tends to muddle the actual meaning and definition. Mental health is disguised as something petty and frivolous. The term itself is misinterpreted. People tend to curtly and out-rightly deny the existence of mental illness, by simply accusing the sufferer of “faking it”, “you are just sad”, “be a man” etc. It’s not precisely mental health that people need to sensitize about, per contra the fact that mental health can, and frequently does, break down. Mental health and physical health are intertwined. Thus, scorn and stigma should to be eliminated and mental health and well-being should receive the same concern and help, such as physical health.
Ever-increasing necessity to spread Mental health awareness
Our overall mental health is as important as our physical health. It is time for us to act wisely, and spread awareness about mental health importance and mental disorders, for battlers to step forward and talk openly about their concerns, for survivors to share their stories, for medical specialists to exchange their clinical learnings and mutually grow stronger. The stigma opposed to mental illness and inadequacy of mental health awareness worsens the already existing mental health issues. To detach the stigma linked to mental health, it is more than necessary to spread awareness and disseminate proper knowledge.
In trying times like today, concerns such as- lockdown, job risks, disturbed social/educational life, financial insecurity, etc. are aggravating the risk of increasing mental health disorders. All sectors of human life have been witnessing discomfort and major fall in current times, which has directly impacted their mental health. A wide-ranging psychological symptom as a result of the quarantine, some of them being, psychological distress, and disorder, including low mood, anxiety, emotional exhaustion, anger, insomnia, stress, irritability, depression, and post-traumatic stress symptoms. In severe cases, suicide has also been reported due to the fear of developing the disease.[i] All the aforementioned facts and alarming circumstances make it inevitable to entail mental health awareness as a pressing priority.
What can we do to help?
Here are a few things one can do in order to help promote mental health well-being.
- First and foremost, there is a greater need to have more open and kind conversations pertaining to mental health. Always try and check in on the ones you know are experiencing a hard time.
- The dissemination of misinformation should be prevented. Wrong information always misleads and, in sensitive cases like these, it rather heightens the problem.
- Showing individual respect and acceptance, along with providing comforting and safe environment removes a major barrier in coping with the disorder.
- We can learn more and accurately about mental health ourselves, which allows us to be in a position to help those suffering around us.
- Social media is quite on the rise. This enables us to leverage its rising influence to spread awareness for mental health in the most outreaching manner.
- Mental illness can take various patterns and forms, and therefore be hard to identify. We can learn the signs and symptoms of various mental health disorders, to help unacquainted sufferers to seek help.
In essence, mental health awareness is all good, however action and authentic working mechanism is what is actually needed. Awareness is huge for prompting the ones with issues to seek help, although effectively pointless if there is no immediate help available. Growing awareness is merely the start of the process, not the end. There is a need to work for this cause on a ground level, by reaching out to people, who need assistance, on a larger scale. We can start by making a change within ourselves and our circles, as it is really important to make general public aware about the fact that mental health is serious and important.
On a final note, each one of us is unique and should be celebrated. What matters most is to know who you really are and what makes you happy. It is up to us to make this change and to create a progressive and comforting place for mental health and peace to flourish.
Image Source- https://adaa.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/mhaware.jpg
[i] Brooks SK, Webster RK, Smith LE, Woodland L, Wessely S, Greenberg N, et al. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence. Lancet 2020; 395:912-20.