How important is mental health?
To some, this may be a redundant question.
Of course Mental health is important, or else you’d literally be crazy right?!
Well, allow me to elaborate…
When your Aunt Betsy asks you if you’re doing alright – you subconsciously auto respond with a “yea, i’m doing fine!” because any other answer would – one, probably lead you to talk about your problems or two, make them think you’re a nut job for having opened up about said issue.
Plus, you probably think that they “couldn’t give two craps less” to hear about them anyways.
This is actually what we call stigma – in a lighter setting, of course. Stigma is the misconception that something is disgraced and can’t be talked about, therefor; making it near impossible for someone to talk about their issues for fear of being misjudged.
Take a girl who’s just been personally violated. There’s a 2/5 chance that she’ll tell anyone or talk about what happened. Why?.. Stigma.
And the only way I see to change it is to encourage others to talk about their problems. Believe it or not, communication is key.
Mainly, because many people that do not struggle with or have never been affiliated directly with mental health conditions do not understand the varying degrees of mental health/illness. Another wide spread stigma enhancer, are unfortunately the individuals that use mental health conditions & mental illness as a crutch to get attention. Making the rest of us look like the boy who cried wolf.
“Just because you’re dealing with mental health issues does not mean you have a mental illness.” Surprisingly this statement; although true – has become some-what of a double entendre (has multiple meanings) when you apply it to the realm of mental illness.
Why? Might you ask. because when not completely conscious, some people have confused this as a general way of thinking and apply it in a way that dilutes the severity of mental illness – By grouping everyone with mental health issues and those diagnosed with mental illness all together and treating them the same – Including those who cry wolf! *Eye Roll*
This is a problem.
Don’t assume you know if someone has a mental health condition or a mental illness – especially, if you’re not educated on their scenario and a licensed professional. Telling someone with these conditions that you don’t believe them, could possibly result in worsening depression or of their condition.
Mental health and mental illness are increasingly being used as if they mean the same thing, but they don’t. Everyone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental illness, but everyone will struggle or have challenges facing their mental well-being. (i.e., mental health) just like we all have challenges with physical health from time to time.
Health isn’t like an on/off switch. There are different degrees of physical health such as various sickness’ and injuries. Just as someone who feels unwell may not have a serious illness, people may have poor mental health without a mental illness. We all have days where we feel a bit down, or stressed out, or overwhelmed by something that’s happening in our lives. An important part of good mental health is the ability to look at problems and concerns realistically. Good mental health isn’t about feeling happy and confident 100% of time and ignoring any problems. It’s about living and coping well – despite the problems.
Just as it’s possible to have poor mental health but no mental illness, it’s entirely possible to have good mental health even with a diagnosis of a mental illness. That’s because mental illnesses (like other health problems) are often episodic, meaning there are times (‘episodes’) of ill health and times of better or good health.
But when you stereotype a group based on your limited knowledge on the subject, you create stigma.
In this scenario, Stigma meaning: fear of talking about their issues – often causing… Anger, resentment, depression, self doubt, low self esteem, etc. and in some severe cases, often resulting in suicide or the harm of someone else.
“woah, that escalated quickly!” – You must have no idea….
People deal with mental health in a variety of ways. One in which includes bottling it all up. Like when you feel like you just want to scream but can’t, or maybe you bottle things up because that’s your way of coping. Or maybe you’re worried about the “pity party” associated with talking about your problems. Everyone has problems of their own and you probably don’t want to bother anyone with yours. That would be selfish, right?… Wrong.
Believe it or not 45% of individuals feel the same. If not exactly – then pretty darn close. It’s no wonder that over the years suicide rates have skyrocketed due to the increase in stigma. If only it weren’t so hard to talk about our issues, if only someone cared to listen…
With the right support and tools, anyone can live well (however they define well) and find purpose, contribute to their local communities, and work towards their future goals. Compassion is a beautiful thing. So next time you see someone in distress, don’t be afraid to offer to lend them an ear. You never know when you may need the favor returned.