Why Mental Health Matters
It's strange to me that we still live in a society where discussing mental health is relatively taboo. Sure, there are special weeks and months dedicated to raising awareness, along with documentaries determined to showcase various issues that people carry through life. But why aren't we talking about mental health more?
Harsh critics, judgmental workplaces, and societal pressures detract from any progress we are trying to make when discussing mental health. For example, in the United States women only have 12 weeks of paid maternity, and some don't even have that "luxury." Those limitations are not taking into account that, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention "reports 1 in 9 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression." So, you're telling me working moms are expected to heal physically, and emotionally in 12 weeks in order to go back to work? That is unfair and ludicrous, yet legislation tells us otherwise.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that "anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year." With such a high percentage of people suffering, we need to discuss why mental health matters.
Mental Health Equals Physical Health
Mental Health is important because it affects all facets of life, including your physical well-being. I hope none of this is news to you, but when you're sad, depressed, or anxious your body reacts to it as well. Mental illness affects your appetite, relationships, sleep schedule, and energy.
Dr. Stephen K. Galson states, "while mental illness can be an isolating and personal struggle, it is also a public health issue. We as a society need to view mental disorders like other chronic medical conditions. They are highly treatable. For many individuals, recovery from mental disorders is possible. This message needs to be further emphasized to combat stigma and encourage more people to seek treatment."
If mental health issues were treated like the common cold, strep throat, or a fever, maybe the stigma would be obsolete.
It Doesn't Just Affect You
Obviously, your well being is a priority in your life, but what about the people around you? Partners, friends, and family members are invested in your mental health as well, and vice versa (hopefully?!). If you're a parent, your mental health not only affects your children, it is an example in which they follow.
And it's a pretty straightforward notion. If your boss is in a bad mood, the office shifts and follows down a negative direction. If you're hysterical in front of a child, they might follow suit, or at least understand the reaction and replicate it later. Please note, I am not faulting anyone with a mental health disorder, I'm simply saying it affects others, which is why we have to work hard to teach others why it matters.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a great resource to better understand your mental health and learn how to discuss it with those closest to you.
Mental Health: We All Have It, so It Does Matter
You go to the gym to work out, you eat vegetables to stay healthy. Nows the time we start engaging our mental health. We need to be easier on each other and let ego take a back seat when discussing something so personal. Employers need to be more understanding by implementing a system in which people mental health needs can be met for staff. There needs to be continued research and studies surrounding mental health where medical professionals have opportunities to find solutions.
I know this all is easier said (or typed) than done but it's true. It's kind of exhausting to think that we aren't open and honest about our mental health because it matters so much. Somewhere we've been told to ignore it, push it down, or fight it alone but let's not, okay? Tweet me if you need me, I'll listen. Because mental health matters ya'll!