We are all affected in some way, shape or fashion by mental health issues. Approximately one in five adults will experience a mental health problem this year. But, what exactly is “mental health”? Mental health involves how a person handles stress, relates to other people, manages emotions, makes decisions, and perceives the world and their sense of purpose in life. That being said, mental health is an essential component to a persons overall health and well being.
Sadly enough, 75-80% of young people needing mental health services do not receive them. The reasons vary from mental health issues and issues going undiagnosed, lack of access to services, and even stigma associated with having a mental health issue of a diagnosis; no one wants to be labeled as “crazy”. The stigma of mental health issues and illness, however, is sometimes our worst enemy, and often times keeps us from seeking the help, support and services that are available to, and for us.
As with any illness, prevention and early intervention are our best defenses. We do screenings for cancer, we check our blood pressure and cholesterol, we eliminate foods from our diets that we know are not good for us, but when it comes to our mental wellbeing, often times, we turn our head and look the other way. We pretend things are just fine, or it’s a phase to be gone through. We make excuses for the behaviors or emotions we may be experiencing, or we see others experience, and then tragedy strikes; the molehill has turned into a mountain, and may not have had to.
People can and do recover from mental health problems, but it cannot be done alone or in isolation. Know some of the warning signs. This includes, but is not limited to: a change in behavior, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of interest in activities or friendships, weight gain or loss, engaging in high risk behaviors, problems at school or at work, to name a few.
What can you do to help yourself or someone you know who might be going through some mental health challenges? Talk to someone experienced that can help you, or get you pointed in the right direction, a professional mental health provider, your clergy person, school counselor or your doctor. The sooner one gets connected to appropriate services; the sooner he or she is on the road to recovery.
Keep good friends close; support is important. Be good to yourself, a balanced diet, adequate sleep and regular exercise all help to support good mental health. Lastly, don’t let stigma keep you or a loved one from getting services they are entitled to. And remember…Asking for help is 60% of the battle, don’t face the battle unarmed.