It’s OK not to be OK – World Mental Health Awareness Month
Published 7:32 am Thursday, May 12, 2022
IEP Case Manager @ Sumter County High School
It’s okay to feel unstable. It’s okay to disassociate. And, it’s okay to hide from the world. And, it’s okay to need help. It’s okay not to be okay. Your mental illness is not a personal failure.
The World Mental Health Month aims to address mental health issues in an empathetic way, with a unifying voice, helping everyone to feel hopeful by empowering everyone to take action and to create lasting change. Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. Mental health is a hot topic. This is good news. It means the stigma for mental health issues is slowly going away. Mental health issues are finally getting the attention they deserve. Healthcare workers and individuals feel they can discuss mental health more openly. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to do. Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health. Factors in people’s lives, interpersonal connections, and physical factors can all contribute to mental health disruptions. “Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. “While we focus on our physical wellbeing, the food we eat, exercise, and getting regular check-ups for vision and dental care, we often forget to take stock of our emotional and spiritual needs. Everyday demands take their toll. Looking after mental health can preserve a person’s ability to enjoy life. Doing this involves reaching a balance between life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine. Mental health affects every aspect of your life.
There is no physical test or scan that reliably indicates whether a person has developed a mental illness. Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviors. The following are possible signs of a mental health disorder:
- withdrawing from friends, family, and colleagues
- avoiding activities that they would normally enjoy
- sleeping too much or too little
- eating too much or too little
- feeling hopeless
- having consistently low energy
- using mood-altering substances, including alcohol and nicotine, more frequently
- displaying negative emotions
- being confused
- being unable to complete daily tasks, such as getting to work or cooking a meal
- having persistent thoughts or memories that reappear regularly
- thinking of causing physical harm to themselves or others
- hearing voices
- experiencing delusions
Common mental health disorders
The most common types of mental illness are as follows:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorders
- Schizophrenia disorders
Anxiety Disorders: We all experience anxiety. For example, speaking in front of a group can make us anxious, but that anxiety also motivates us to prepare and practice. Driving in heavy traffic is another common source of anxiety, but it helps keep us alert and cautious to avoid accidents. However, when feelings of intense fear and distress become overwhelming and prevent us from doing everyday activities, an anxiety disorder may be the cause. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. Over 40 million adults in the U.S. (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile, approximately 7% of children aged 3-17 experience issues with anxiety each year. Most people develop symptoms before age 21.
Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to think clearly. People with bipolar experience high and low moods—known as mania and depression—which differ from the typical ups-and-downs most people experience. The average age-of-onset is about 25, but it can occur in the teens, or more uncommonly, in childhood. The condition affects men and women equally, with about 2.8% of the U.S. population diagnosed with bipolar disorder and nearly 83% of cases classified as severe. If left untreated, bipolar disorder usually worsens. However, with a good treatment plan including psychotherapy, medications, a healthy lifestyle, a regular schedule and early identification of symptoms, many people live well with the condition.
Schizophrenia Disorders: Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness. The exact prevalence of schizophrenia is difficult to measure, but estimates range from 0.25% to 0.64% of U.S. adults. Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20’s for men, and the late 20’s to early 30’s for women. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40. It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.
There are various methods for managing mental health problems. Treatment is highly individual, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some strategies or treatments are more successful in combination with others. A person living with a chronic mental disorder may choose different options at various stages in their life.The individual needs to work closely with a doctor who can help them identify their needs and provide them with suitable treatment.
Treatments can include:
Psychotherapy, or talking therapies
This type of treatment takes a psychological approach to treating mental illness. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, exposure therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy are examples. Psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and some primary care physicians carry out this type of treatment. It can help people understand the root of their mental illness and start to work on more healthful thought patterns that support everyday living and reduce the risk of isolation and self-harm.
Some people take prescribed medications. Although these cannot cure mental disorders, some medications can improve symptoms and help a person resume social interaction and a normal routine while they work on their mental health.Some of these medications work by boosting the body’s absorption of feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin, from the brain. Other drugs either boost the overall levels of these chemicals or prevent their degradation or destruction.
A person coping with mental health difficulties will usually need to make changes to their lifestyle to facilitate wellness. Such changes might include reducing alcohol intake, sleeping more, and eating a balanced, nutritious diet. People may need to take time away from work or resolve issues with personal relationships that may be causing damage to their mental health. People with conditions such as an anxiety or depressive disorder may benefit from relaxation techniques, which include deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness. Having a support network, whether via self-help groups or close friends and family, can also be essential to recovery from mental illness.
I would say Nobody can save you but yourself, and you’re worth saving. It’s a war not easily won, but if anything is worth winning then this is it. You just have to trust that people are out there waiting to love you and celebrate you for who you are. You might have to be your own best friend. That’s not something they’re going to teach you in school. So start the work of loving yourself.
I am bent, but not broken. I am scarred, but not disfigured. I am sad, but not hopeless. I am tired, but not powerless. I am angry, but not bitter. I am depressed, but not giving up.
Remember, one small crack does not mean that you are broken, it means that you were put to the test and you didn’t fall apart. The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.