People with mental health issues across the world can benefit from mental health awareness. A quarter of adults have symptoms of a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Statistics like this highlight the importance of confronting a mental disorder. Awareness of mental illness is critical because it can help people realize that they’re not alone in their struggles and that other individuals are there to help them.
Turning to a mental health clinic like Alvarado Parkway Institute is crucial in order for someone to get the treatment they need. Mental health awareness encourages more people to be open to the idea of seeking medical help and not isolating themselves because of the challenges they’re facing. Communities can battle against various mental health issues if every member takes the time to understand them. Read on to learn more about mental illnesses and the importance of mental health awareness.
What Is Mental Illness?
Mental or psychiatric disorders are physical disorders of the brain that cause disturbances in thinking, mood, behavior, and energy and hinder normal daily activities. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they can be due in part to genetics, neurobiology, brain chemistry and its structure, or trauma.
Here are some statistics for two of the most common categories for mental health conditions:
- An estimated 18% of adults in the US alone struggle with anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder.
- Nearly 10% of adults suffer from mood disorders each year, which are characterized by difficulties in regulating one’s mood.
The Definition And Importance Of Mental Health Awareness
‘Awareness’ is the ability to recognize, understand, and properly evaluate a situation or fact. For mental health awareness to succeed, one must first grasp what mental health implies to themselves and their family and peers.
While everyone has to look after their mental health just like their physical health, only some are diagnosed with mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. This is why it’s essential to raise mental health awareness in any way you can. According to Mental Health America, a mental illness will affect one in five people at some point in their lives. Even though mental illness affects numerous people all over the world, seeking help for or simply discussing mental health issues still carries many stigmas.
An awareness campaign for mental health aims to destigmatize mental health issues and encourage productive dialogues and open discussions. It’s an effort to convince more people that they should recognize and accept the existence of mental health disorders and the need to face them head-on. This type of change in society can only happen if individuals and groups take action. Raising mental health awareness can still make a big difference in the lives of many no matter how small the steps involved are.
Types Of Mental Health Disorders
Mental illnesses encompass a variety of conditions. Eating disorders and addiction are also counted among mental health issues such as bipolar disorder and cyclothymic disorder.
Part of mental health awareness is to educate yourself on the differences between mental health disorders. This will help you figure out how to address the issue at hand. Here are some of the mental health disorders you might have already heard of but don’t know much about:
- Anxiety Disorders
When someone has an anxiety disorder, they experience more anxiety than they would feel in an ordinary situation. Although it’s normal to be nervous when speaking in front of a crowd or meeting new people, people with anxiety disorders feel extremely fearful or frightened when confronted with specific situations.
Individuals with anxiety disorders may avoid threatening problems, and this avoidance may negatively affect their performance at school and work. Panic and phobic behaviors are often correlated with anxiety disorders.
A commonly known anxiety disorder is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This condition is triggered by traumatic events or terrifying experiences such as sexual assault, the untimely death of a loved one, or natural disasters. Traumatic stress is often accompanied by prolonged and terrifying memories as well as emotional numbness.
- Psychotic Disorders
The cognitive processes of psychosis are altered when someone is suffering from a psychotic disorder. In psychotic states, hallucinations and delusions are two of the most common symptoms. These false beliefs are accepted as truth, so the affected individual ignores contrary evidence.
An example of a psychotic disorder is schizophrenia. This is characterized by distorted thinking and possibly hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there.
- Personality Disorders
A person with a personality disorder exhibits extreme and rigid personality traits that cause them distress and interfere with their work, relationships, and personal life. The individual’s behavioral and thought patterns are also so severe that they affect their ability to function normally. Some examples include theatrical personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and paranoid personality disorder.
Although a lot of people nowadays tend to describe themselves as ‘obsessive-compulsive’ when they like things to be tidy or in order, OCD isn’t that simple. Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves constant worries and fears that prompt a person to perform recurring rituals. Obsessions center around disturbing beliefs, while compulsions center around repetitive patterns. A person may have OCD if they’re unreasonably afraid of germs and wash their hands constantly.
- Impulse Control And Addiction Disorders
An impulse control disorder is characterized by an inability to stop yourself from doing something that may harm oneself or others. Among impulse control disorders are pyromania (starting fires), compulsive gambling, and kleptomania (stealing). Among the most common objects of addiction are alcohol and drugs. Addiction disorders often lead people to neglect responsibilities and relationships in favor of the habits they pursue.
- Eating Disorders
A person with an eating disorder either eats excessively or severely restricts their food intake. Weight is a significant concern for people with eating disorders.
A person suffering from anorexia stops themselves from eating due to fears of gaining weight and being fat. With bulimia nervosa, calories are consumed in excess and then removed through purging. Binge eating is also defined as overeating, but the person doesn’t purge their food intake. Medical treatment for eating disorders usually includes nutrition counseling, therapy, and medication.
- Mood Disorders
Also known as affective disorders, these involve periods of persistent sadness, overly happy episodes, or oscillations between extreme happiness and sadness. Depression, bipolar disorder, and cyclothymic disorder are the most common mood disorders.
How To Get Involved With Mental Health Awareness
While physical distance can make it challenging to bring attention to mental health issues, there are other ways for you to advocate mental health awareness. Whether you yourself are struggling with a mental disorder or you simply want to inform others regarding mental health issues, here are some steps you can do:
- Undergo Mental Health Screening
Mental health screenings in the U.S. can be requested from Mental Health America. After the test, you should share your experience with others and suggest that they undergo the screening as well.
- Understand The Symptoms
Mental health sufferers don’t always realize that their struggles are associated with untreated disorders. It’s therefore a must to become aware of common mental health symptoms. Here are a few to watch out for:
- Changing sleeping patterns
- Diminished appetite
- Impulsiveness in making decisions
- Drug or alcohol abuse in times of stress
- Thoughts of suicide
A mental health issue might be causing you or someone you know to feel unwell in the past few days. Should be the case, seek immediate treatment. The symptoms mentioned can negatively impact not only your mental and emotional health but also your physical well-being.
- Get Rid Of Mental Health Stigma
One of the main goals of mental health awareness is to break the stigma of seeking mental health care. Mental health disorders affect millions of people on a global scale, and some of them may not even know that they have one. As you become more aware of the availability and range of mental health treatments out there, you can start to understand how many individuals and groups spend time and effort to determine how best to help you or your loved one. A support system for mental health issues is a step toward recovery.
Mental illness often leads to isolation, stereotypes, shame, and discrimination, all of which can hinder a person’s recovery. More people will recognize that no one should be defined by their mental illness when everybody starts talking about it openly and showing more compassion to individuals with mental health disorders.
- Give Messages Of Hope
In difficult times, those who have mental illnesses may need to talk to someone who can encourage them and listen to their struggles. Ideally, they should have someone who can offer them hope.
If you have a friend or family member battling a mental illness, see to it that you lend them your ears at least a few minutes a day and let them know that you’ll be there for them no matter what. Sometimes, simple, comforting words are enough to lift their spirits.
You can also go online and share posts by prominent mental health advocates and organizations. This way, you can help them comfort and give hope to people who might still be trying to deal with mental health issues on their own.
- Spread Mental Health Awareness Information
People struggling with mental illness may realize that they’re not the only ones experiencing what they’re currently going through by talking about their conditions. If you don’t have direct experience with mental illness, having a conversation about it can help inform you about risk factors, symptoms, treatments, and prevention measures, enabling you to help others.
Aiming for higher mental health awareness can help create a more accepting society. You can never tell who’s suffering from a mental health disorder, but if you have the right knowledge about the matter, then you can help anyone.
- Take Care Of Your Mental Health
Living a healthy lifestyle helps improve the other aspects of one’s life, which is why a lot of people put effort into exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep. However, maintaining a balance between your physical and mental health is essential as well.
Be sure to keep your mental health in check. Many online resources can help you establish a routine that can strengthen your mental health, especially during trying times.
- Know The Treatment
A mental illness can lead to other chronic medical conditions and even early death usually due to treatable conditions, so finding treatment as soon as possible is essential. Keep in mind that no matter the severity of the issue, help will always be available. You can check the websites of mental health clinics in your area to determine what you can do at the first signs of a mental health disorder.
The Importance Of Mental Health
Physical and mental health are closely connected. One’s mental health has a direct bearing on their relationships with family and friends and the choices they make in life. Mental stability is essential for handling both the good times and the not-so-good times. Fortunately, there are ways to keep the symptoms of mental disorders to a minimum, especially if they’re discovered early. The best approach is to take care of your health both physically and mentally in order to promote overall wellness.
Treat Mental Health Issues The Same Way You Treat Physical Health Issues
Symptoms of colds or the flu are commonly treated with medication. You can purchase cough drops, take vitamin C supplements, and even get flu shots almost anywhere.
However, not enough individuals seek treatment for mental illnesses like they do for physical ailments. This is despite the reality that within the American adult population, one in four has some form of mental illness. A lot of people visit their doctor and dentist regularly in order to maintain their physical health, so why shouldn’t they do the same for their mental health?
One reason to maintain good mental health is that it contributes to good physical health. A study conducted in 2012 showed that individuals with a mental illness are less likely to be active and eat a healthy diet than their peers who don’t have a mental illness. There’s no point in looking after your body if you ignore the needs of your mind.
Raising mental health awareness is the first step toward supporting people with mental health disorders and figuring out if we have mental health issues to deal with as well. Education plays a big role in increasing awareness, and that knowledge will increase your power to make a positive impact in the community.
Mental health awareness is essential to help individuals receive the treatments they need. To access community resources, public knowledge is critical. Everyone should address mental health as a community and not think of it as ‘other people’s’ problem. In the long run, this will result in the improvement of society.
Also, it’s not enough to get information about mental health awareness here. It’s advisable to attend conferences and seminars as well as health fairs in order to get a deeper understanding of mental health issues.