Today’s fast-paced life has us juggling multiple responsibilities at the same time. In many careers, the line between personal and professional is blurring out. It is easy to get stressed by the magnitude of never-ending tasks. You wish you could catch a break. But for many that happens only after a dramatic burnout.
We live in a society where one in four adults is suffering from a mental disorder. Poor mental health cripples an individual. As a patient, you can neither focus on work nor enjoy your leisure time. Sometimes, you simply want to talk to someone about your mood and thoughts. But our society is still warming up to the idea of ‘mental health’.
Discussing your mental health is still akin to social suicide in most scenarios. People judge you and think you are weak. That only worsens the situation. We need to address this taboo and normalize mental health.
How do we Define Mental Health?
Mental health refers to our psychological, social and emotional well-being. It directly impacts our thoughts, feelings and actions. When these systems are disrupted, it leads to poor decisions, poor stress management, dissatisfying relationships etc. The deterioration of mental health causes mental illness.
Mental illnesses impair our judgment, clarity and motivation. A couple of factors can make someone mentally sick. They are –
· Genetics – You can inherit a mental illness from a blood relative.
· Environment – Your experiences affect your life. Trauma or abuse can destroy mental health.
· Biological – Your brain chemistry could be imbalanced, resulting in mood disorders.
What is the Stigma around Mental health?
More and more people are coming forward with their mental illnesses. But the society at large does not accept without judgment. Mental illness is frowned upon. Some people do not even consider it to be a “real” disease. Employees taking time off to seek therapy are labeled as unproductive.
Your environment affects your well-being. A supportive community is important for people to recover from mental illness. As a society, there are some steps we need to take to normalize the importance of mental health.
How to Normalize Mental Health
These steps are crucial to sensitize a society toward mental health issues.
- INDIVIDUAL’S ROLE – If you feel you are suffering from a mental illness, immediately seek help. Don’t wait for your condition to worsen. This will harm your life and relationships. Many people associate mental illness with psychotic behavior. Prioritize your mental health before you completely breakdown.
- COMMUNITY’S ROLE – This applies to the people we regularly interact with. Observe your friend, family member or colleague. Are they feeling low and moody? Please talk to them. If they want to be left alone, give them space. If you know they are receiving therapy then be supportive of them. Most counseling sessions require participation from loved ones. Be compassionate.
- SOCIETY’S ROLE – In the larger cultural context, we need to stop ridiculing strangers who behave abnormally. At the political level, we should have more public discussions on Mental Health Assessment. Myths like “Mental illness only affects the weak!” should be busted. Many celebrities like Selena Gomez have openly addressed their mental health. We should follow in their footsteps and create a hate-free space.
Mental Health Awareness is as important as physical health. An able body will not excel without the will to live. We are seeing a slow shift toward mental health acceptance. If you are suffering from a mental illness, please seek help. If you know someone who is mentally ill, please guide them to help.
Acknowledging you have a problem is half the battle won. When your loved ones and social support you in recovery, you have won already!