The Importance of Raising Mental Health Awareness

Understanding Mental Health 

Have you read “Perks of being a Wallflower”? Do you remember Charlie from that book? If not, then let me help you recall him. 

Charlie, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being admitted to hospital during the summer after his best friend commits suicide, was enrolled in his first year of high school. He was afraid to be known as the strange kid who has no friends because he was in the hospital during the entire summer vacation. 

Charlie’s anxiety dates back to the first shocking event of his life, death of his aunt Helen. She died in a car accident when Charlie was a kid. She was on her way to surprise him and this made Charlie always blame himself for his aunt Helen’s death, who he always idolizes. 

He had been repressing the fact that aunt Helen molested him when he was a kid. These memories come into his consciousness only when he enters into a passionate sexual experience with Sam. 

Imagine what Charlie was going through. Try to put yourself in his shoes for a better perspective on this. You definitely wouldn’t be comfortable even reading it, think about what he was feeling. Let’s broaden our boundaries and think about other people in general. 

7.4% of children which includes age group of 3-17 years (approximately 4.5 million) have been diagnosed with a mental health issue. Majority of this population is diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Approximately 43.8 million adults experience mental illness each year.

What is Mental Illness?

Mental illness is a health condition of brain which involves disturbances in thinking, behaviors, energy or emotion that makes it difficult to cope up with the ordinary demands of life. Mental illnesses are related with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.

Research is starting to unfold the mysteries of compliment causes of these diseases which can include genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, experiencing trauma and/or having another medical condition, like cancer or heart disease. Mental illnesses are amendable and researchers are working on different ways to help in treatment.  

How Mental Illness Affects People 

The mental and emotional well-being of a child is just as important as his/her physical health. Good mental health helps them develop resilience to cope with any situation in their lives and grow into a well-balanced and healthy adult.

Childhood and adolescence are the crucial stages of life for mental health. It is a time of rapid growth and development of brain. Children and adolescents acquire cognitive and social-emotional skills that shape their future mental health and are important for assuring adult roles in society. 

Mental health conditions such as childhood epilepsy, developmental disabilities, depression, anxiety neurosis, and behavioral disorders are major causes of illness and disability in adolescents.

How to Deal With Mental Health Issues

  1. Trying to be in a good physical health, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise
  2. Taking out time for one self and go out and meet people
  3. Being a part of a family, which is usually effective
  4. Develop or continue your hobbies and interests
  5. Trying to feel loved, trusted, understood, valued and safe
  6. Being interested in life and having opportunities to succeed
  7. Accepting who you are and recognize what you are good at
  8. Feel like you have control over your own life and not others
  9. Having the strength to cope up when something is wrong and the ability to solve it

Why is it Important to Spread Awareness About Mental Health? 

Do you know how to access the services if you find out that your loved one has some problems and you have to meet an expert? Almost 50% do not know how to get mental health services because they don’t know if it’s available or not. 

Lack of access can be caused by incorrect information about where to go. Mental illness cannot be treated with simple desires. It needs treatment. In many cases, people may not be able to access these services due to cultural or linguistic barriers.

Awareness also removes the stigma for these people. Knowing its limits and strengths, the stigma may disappear. Suppose your daughter is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. You wouldn’t like people around you saying, "She goes crazy and locks her up." 

The stigma represents the opinions and thoughts of the community. The society is ashamed of mental illness. It creates a community where the mind is closed and refuses to accept “other” people. Attitudes and behaviors move a community in a positive or negative trend. If there is a negative tendency, its influence can cause a combination of negativity and hatred.

Awareness can also make new improvements for people with mental illness. The more demands the public has, the more interest can be created. Such interests can ultimately make a big difference in mental health. It can lead to improved service and development. Due to high demand, we will prioritize this issue. 

Also, there is a big misconception about people with mental illness. Many people think that these people are lazy or are simply creating it. They are possessed by mad demons, uncontrolled, and unsafe. 

Negative labels given due to lack of consciousness and misunderstanding can be reduced by raising awareness. Why continue to live in a community with judgment, if we can raise awareness about it. 

What Exactly can we do to Help Others?

  1. Showing respect and acceptance of individuals helps remove barriers from coping well with their illness. Having people see you as an individual and not considering you according to your illnesses can make the biggest difference for someone who is struggling with their mental health.
  2. Circle of Influence helps ensure that these individuals have the same rights and opportunities as other members of your school or community.
  3. Learning more about mental health can provide useful support to affected people in their families and communities. 

Written by - Tanvi Mohanty

Edited by - Isha Singh 

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