Is there an issue with mental health?
Mental Health is something we, as a modern western society, don’t take seriously.
We look after our body, we promote healthy living, diet, exercise and everything to make us feel better about our physical self. In many ways, mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it.
Sadly, mental illness tends to be segregated from physical illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, or a heart condition. But If the brain is a physical organ of the body and a chemical reaction also of the physical anatomy, then wouldn’t it all be considered physiological?
It appears that this isn’t the case. Mental health is a neglected part of health. Mental illnesses are not perceived to be as serious as physical ones—by the public and Government alike.
What the statistics say...
Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.15
Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.16
Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you're frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.
How does it affect people?
Experiencing a mental health problem is often upsetting, confusing and frightening – particularly at first. If you become unwell, you may feel that it's a sign of weakness, or that you are 'losing your mind'.
These fears are often reinforced by the negative (and often unrealistic) way that people experiencing mental health problems are shown on TV, in films and by the media. This may stop you from talking about your problems, or seeking help. This, in turn, is likely to increase your distress and sense of isolation.
However, in reality, mental health problems are a common human experience.
Most people know someone who has experienced a mental health problem. They can happen to all kinds of people from all walks of life. And it's likely that, when you find a combination of self-care, treatment and support that works for you, you will get better.
How can we help? How can we change?
People with mental health problems say discrimination from friends, family and neighbours has the biggest impact.
How can we end the stigma around mental health? How can we make a change an create a stigma-free future where those who suffer from mental health issues feel understood, supported and included?
A few suggestions of things you can do to show support:
- Have a conversation about mental health -Just having a conversation about mental health - with a friend, family member or anyone else - can help to break down the silence and shame around the subject.
- Challenge stigmatising coverage and products - Speak out against damaging stereotypes and misconceptions of mental health problems in the media and in products.
- Get involved in a proactive mental health campaign
- Write a blog about attitudes to mental health
- Create artwork to spread awareness about mental health