• Factivists

Mental Health Matters

Sania Merchant reflects on Mental Health Matters.

World Mental Health Day, celebrated on 10th October every year, is an international day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.

Although in the past few years people have finally started talking about mental health, there is still a lot of stigma around mental health. People -especially people of the older generation- shy away from the topic of therapy, medicines for mental problems, problems they are facing, etc.

This stigma and lack of discussion can lead to various problems such as substance abuse, loneliness, unhealthy coping mechanisms, etc. We must break past the stigmas because a vast number of people are struggling with mental health problems.

About 20% of children and adolescents over the world struggle with mental disorders or problems and about 8,00,000 people die every year due to suicide and according to research, for every adult that died due to suicide, there are over 20 more others attempting suicide.

1 in 5 adults has considered taking their own life at some point with suicide being one of the leading causes of death and it is being predicted that depression will be one of the most spread out illnesses throughout the world.

With such a high number of people suffering through these problems, it is necessary for us to break past all the stigma and talk about it with others. Chances are someone you already know is struggling with one form of mental disorder or another and requires some form of help.

So, what can you do?

We must speak up and openly talk about mental disorders to help others as well as ourselves because a majority of the people don’t receive help on time. On average a person receives help and diagnosis for their mental problems only after a decade has passed since the disorder formed completely.

The majority of mental disorder forms during childhood and teenage years so it is important that children are taught about mental problems from a young age to help them with diagnosis if necessary. Parents and schools should educate their children about these problems with regular visits to the counselor.

Adults should make it a habit to visit a therapist or counselor whenever they feel their mental health is deteriorating. They should talk about it with people they trust for support if needed.

People should educate older generations about mental health since they can sometimes be sensitive towards the topic & more likely to avoid the topic, dismiss it and even look down on it.

One should also read up about various mental disorders to gain more knowledge on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, solution, etc.

Various people over the world are struggling with mental health issues with the most highlighted problems being anxiety, depression, insomnia, substance abuse disorders, self-harm, etc.

Some other disorders that are not discussed often are schizophrenia, autism, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, panic disorder, specific phobias, dissociative disorders, kleptomania, narcolepsy, OCD, etc. These disorders are often ignored as a phase and brushed off with people telling the patients “to get over it” since they are not discussed often.

One should be aware of their own mental health condition and seek help accordingly. If you know someone who you think suffers from mental health problems, try talking to them about it and make sure they receive proper help and diagnosis instead of letting them isolate themselves from other people and since they make look for unhealthy coping mechanisms and may even hurt themselves or others.

Be kind, gentle and understanding towards people who struggle with mental health problems. Show them support and help them when needed. Learn to be patient with them as they are suffering too.

Mental health problems also affect a person physically by taking a negative toll on their body. A change in a person’s physical body may be a sign of mental disorder or even relapse.

Lastly, here’s a quick checklist to help you note any changes and signs of deteriorating mental health:

  •  Have I been eating healthy recently?

  •  Have I been getting even sleep lately?

  •  Am I consuming a healthy amount of food?

  •  Have I been feeling low lately?

  •  Am I getting nightmares?

  •  Am I socializing a healthy amount?

  •  Have I been feeling anxious lately or getting anxiety attacks?

  •  Have I been facing frequent mood swings lately?

  •  Am I coping with my problems in a healthy manner?

The majority of the people struggle with mental disorders and it is necessary that we break past the barriers and seek the help we and others need. Mental health problems are not “just a phase.” They are real and important problems.

Mental health is as important as physical health & it’s about time we prioritize it. Invest in your mental health.

Your mental health matters.

You matter.

“It’s okay to not be okay, Just don’t give up.”

(Note: Mental health problems are serious and if you or someone you know are struggling with these problems, seek professional help immediately or tell someone you trust about it for support.)

Here are some sources for helplines in case you or someone you know needs immediate help: https://www.befrienders.org/ https://www.checkpointorg.com/global/ https://togetherweare-strong.tumblr.com/helpline