Why Mental Health Awareness Matters So Much
The Importance of Mental Health Awareness
So why does mental health awareness matter? The answer is quite simple: Because so many people are affected. Did you know that 43.8 million Americans experience a mental health illness in a single year? Notice that that number refers strictly to the American population. It also only counts a year’s worth of illness. For a larger population, depression is the leading cause of disability in the world.
These figures come from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). They have plenty of stats about mental health including the fact that one in every five adults has a mental illness. In addition, “one half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14.”
Let’s break down some of the common terms to gain a better understanding. The broad term mental health refers to an individual’s overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health affects our ability to handle stress. (From the minor things like sleeping past your alarm to the major life stresses like moving to a new place or the death of a loved one). On the other hand, these life events as well as your biological makeup (so your genes and “brain chemistry”) and your family’s history of mental health problems all contribute to your mental health. Does that make sense? Basically, all of these factors are interwoven.
The term mental illness refers to a wide range of disorders from depression to eating disorders to post-traumatic-stress disorder. (And those are just a small, broad sample from the list). When the word chronic is added—which makes chronic mental illness—this means that a person could have more than one mental illness or a recurrent illness. The severity of a mental illness is usually defined by “its length of duration and the disability it produces.” However, this phrasing undermines how disabling all mental illnesses can be depending on the individual.
Raising Awareness Matters
Mental health awareness matters because many more people are impacted than you might assume. A significant amount of people go undiagnosed and just “deal with” their mental health issues rather than seeking help, perhaps because of the stigma associated with either seeking therapy or mental health illnesses in general.
In addition, mental health illnesses affect people in different ways, which means that the treatments can also differ from person to person and situation to situation. This makes sense as other health issues operate the same way, as do other medications, say for chronic headaches.
The crux of the issue here is realizing an unfortunate double standard: When an individual falls and breaks his arm, the pain and damage are “real” and treatable. However, just because an illness or disorder may not be physically seen does not make them any less real. Mental health disorders exist.
Please don’t hesitate to call if you or someone you know is seeking counseling for their mental health illness,
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