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Mental health illnesses are more prevalent and common than people think. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMH) statistics, one in every 20 Americans is diagnosed with severe mental illnesses such as Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder. Also, one in every five American adults will experience general mental illnesses in any given year. Finally, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in adults and children between 10 and 34 who experience problems with mental illnesses.
It’s so common that the general population began accepting stigmas and misconceptions about mental health due to the lack of information. That is why May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Throughout May, people come together to spread the word, educate, and fight mental health stigmas.
As someone who has suffered from Depression and Anxiety, I must share my stories and help anyone with the same issues. When I experienced severe side effects of having a mental health illness, I wish somebody would have educated me on these issues. That is why I chose to make this topic my theme for the month. So, if you’ve asked yourself, “what is mental health?” then read this post to learn more.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is the combination of your physical, emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It is about how you carry yourself when negative emotions arise and how you overcome challenges. Many people believe that being mentally healthy means living free of illness, but it’s more than that. It’s about your overall health wellness state combined with how you feel and act towards negative feelings.
It’s one of the dimensions of self care that focuses on controlling their state of mind in stressful situations. External factors such as stress, the environment, eating habits, and even your social life affect it. It’s essential to learn how to cope with your mental health when you begin to have a negative life outlook.
Why is It Important?
Being mentally healthy and living well is vital to every single one of us – whether we are living with a mental illness or not. Understanding mental health is more important now than ever. More people between the ages of 13-24 are diagnosed with mental illness, and worse, commit suicide.
While many people are diagnosed with these illnesses, most do not seek treatment due to these stigmas. If these illnesses go untreated, it can result in declining health, lower productivity, and increased chances of suicide.
In the United States, psychiatrists, therapists, psychologists, and medical specialists rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to diagnose mental illnesses. There are many types of mental disorders.
Here are the most common ones.
- Major Depression: Having extreme feelings of sadness and hopelessness that lasts a long time. Typically, people with this disorder lose interest in hobbies and activities. It is treatable with medication and different types of therapy.
- Bipolar Disorder: Having episodes of sometimes high or manic energy and depressive or low energy. It can affect a person’s ability to reason and make decisions when extreme. It is treatable with medication and therapy.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Yes, OCD is technically a mental health illness. When a person has reoccurring, unwanted, and obsessive thoughts that repeatedly force a person to complete a specific action, OCD is treatable in a combination of therapy, self care, healthy living, and medication.
- Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a severe mental health disorder in which a person cannot distinguish between real and unreal experiences. It’s one of the most complex mental health disorders, and there is no cure for it. However, Schizophrenia is treatable with medication and different types of therapy.
- Anxiety: Having an extreme fear or uneasiness about a particular situation. There are many different types of anxieties that can affect a person’s day-to-day lifestyle. Most forms of anxiety are treatable with a combination of medication, therapy, and self care.
As you can see, there are so many different types of mental illnesses which is why it’s important to seek care whenever you feel like you’re experiencing severe symptoms. In addition to seeking professional care, there are ways you can use self care to look after your mental state.
Self Care & Mental Health
Self care relies on being self aware, which is essential for those living with mental illness. Having self awareness means that you understand how external factors immediately affect your health. Self awareness helps you recognize your triggers, how you feel, how you respond to situations emotionally, and what you must do to recover. That doesn’t mean that it will help when you’re at your lowest point.
Most people cannot practice self care at their lowest point because they feel emotion heightened. While I encourage you to always practice self-care, I understand how much work is required and how difficult that may be for certain people.
Here are a few ways you can practice mental self care
Mental Self Care Practices
- Get Off Social Media
- Get Creative
- Take Breaks
- Light a Candle
- Eat Healthily
- Drink Water
What Does it Mean to Have Good Mental Wellbeing?
It’s simple. Having good mental well-being means that you understand why you’re emotionally reacting to specific situations, healthily overcome challenges, and cope with everyday life scenarios.
There are some situations you cannot control, such as death. When these more significant events occur, you must know how to be resilient and to let them bring you down. In these situations, it’s about how we respond physically, mentally, and emotionally. For example, are you the type of person to stay in bed all day and hide from the situation? Do you approach each new day with an open mind and heart? Do you immediately think negatively when something occurs?
FREE Mental Health Resources
Please note that the mental health resources listed below are for United States, United Kingdom, and South African citizens. If you’re looking for resources in other countries not listed above, please reference https://unitedgmh.org/mental-health-support, which has an extensive list of resources for people who have a mental illness, including those living in third-world countries.
- The National Suicide Hotline (USA): Call +1 (800)-273-8255
- Mind Info (UK):( Call 0 (300)-123-3393
- Samaritans: Call 116-123
- Crisis Text Line (USA): Text NAMI to 741-741
- Suicide Crisis Helpline (South Africa): Call 0 (800)- 567-567
- 24hr Substance Abuse Helpline (South Africa): Call 0 (800)-121-314
- Mental Health Helplines (South Africa) Call 0 (800)- 456-789 or 0 (800)-212-223