Mental Health Awareness
The Importance of Mental Health to Your Daily Well-Being
The ways you think and feel play an essential role in your day-to-day reality. Thoughts and emotions that support well-being can have a tremendously positive influence on your outlook. In stark contrast, feelings and thoughts that diminish well-being can leave you in a negative, vulnerable state. Despite these facts, many people take their mental health for granted and do not cultivate ways of achieving mental health awareness.
Mental health assumptions can work in two ways. If you currently feel stable and well, you may assume that this will always be the case. And if you are in a poor state of mental health, you may believe that your situation will never change. Both of these points of view are inaccurate. By paying close attention to your mental health, you can avoid developing future problems. Mental health awareness can also empower you to seek treatment for any serious issues currently affecting you.
The Meaning of Mental Health Awareness
What exactly does the term mental health awareness mean? Mental health encompasses not only your psychological and emotional state. In addition, it includes the quality of your connections with others. Mental health also has a functional aspect. In this respect, it refers to your ability to do such things as:
- Remain productive in daily life
- Meet important obligations in various areas of your life
- Adjust to changing life circumstances while staying emotionally balanced
You become aware of your mental health when you begin to understand the importance of each of these factors.
Why Care About Mental Health
Awareness also includes the understanding that your current state of mental well-being can change. If you currently feel mentally healthy, a number of things can lead you to run into problems in the future. Examples of these things include:
- Your genetic heritage
- High levels of personal stress
- Exposure to major, traumatic events
- Excessive use of drugs or alcohol
- Social isolation
Crucially, awareness also includes the knowledge that you can recover from mental illness. This is true even if you have severe symptoms of a serious condition. Effective treatments have been developed for essentially all mental health problems. The right program will give you access to the specific form of treatment you need.
Mental Illness as a Disease
An understanding that mental illness is a disease is crucial to effective mental health awareness. If you are affected by such an illness, you do not suffer from a character defect. You are also not a moral failure. Instead, you have a diagnosable condition with complex, interacting causes.
Mental illness is not uncommon. In fact, in one form or another, it affects almost 20% of all adults in the U.S. The most widespread diseases of mental health are depression and anxiety disorder. The term depression typically refers to major depressive disorder or major depression. Anxiety disorder is an illness category that includes conditions such as:
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Specific phobia
- Social anxiety disorder
Some experts also view PTSD and obsessive-compulsive disorder as anxiety disorders. However, officially, both of these conditions belong to other categories of mental illness.
The Stigma Associated With Mental Health
For various reasons, there is frequently a stigma associated with discussing mental health-related issues. The term stigma refers to negative attitudes or beliefs held by:
- A person
- A group of people
- Society as a whole
- Specific institutions in society
Much of this stigma centers on mental illness. It can lead to acts of prejudice toward people affected by these kinds of illnesses. It can also lead to the creation of widespread discriminatory practices.
Stigma against mental illness can have major negative repercussions. For example, it often plays a role in preventing affected people from seeking help. It can also interfere with the availability of mental health care, especially if you have limited personal resources.
But the effects of stigma do not stop with people who have a mental illness. They can also make it more difficult to talk openly about mental health in general. This difficulty can interfere with access to accurate information on mental health issues. It can also leave you unaware of the importance of guarding your emotional and psychological well-being.
How to Break the Stigma
A number of personal and social actions can help break the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness. One of the most effective things you can do is include people with a mental illness in your social circle. By getting to know an affected person yourself, you get the chance to form your own opinions. This can be crucial to helping you overcome any stigma or bias you may hold. Other steps you can take include:
- Learning the facts about mental illness
- Sharing what you have learned with others who have less knowledge
- Having open conversations about mental health
- Avoiding using terms that help perpetuate mental health stigmas
- Not viewing mental health problems differently than physical problems
- Treating people affected by mental illness with compassion
Raising Awareness of Mental Illness
Awareness campaigns are often essential to changing society’s stigma toward mental illness. These campaigns take a variety of forms. Some are initiated by groups or organizations. Others start with celebrities or other individuals.
In the U.S., one of the biggest, most well-known campaigns is Mental Health Awareness Month. This month takes place every May. Its aims include things such as:
- Reducing mental health stigmas
- Giving support to people who experience mental illnesses
- Providing public education on mental health-related topics
- Helping ensure that people affected by an illness get the help they need
- Providing similar support for the families of affected people
The Need to Focus on Mental Health Year-Round
Major campaigns like Mental Health Awareness Month form only part of the awareness equation. If no other efforts were taken, it could be easy to slip back into the social norm of stigma and prejudice. This is why the focus on mental health must be year-round.
Smaller awareness campaigns do operate at other times. However, much of the important work must be carried out by concerned individuals. The steps you take in everyday life may not seem like much. But when combined with the efforts of others, they can contribute to lasting, positive change.
Daily Practices for Mental Health
It is critical to remember that effective mental health awareness is proactive. By taking steps to promote sound health, you will likely decrease your risks for future problems. Experts recommend a variety of daily practices for mental health. Examples of these recommended practices include:
- Finding ways to reduce your exposure to stress
- Maintaining a positive outlook despite life’s ups and downs
- Improving the quality of your social connections
- Becoming more mindful of your inner reality and the world around you
- Making sure you get plenty of restful sleep
- Seeking support when you experience loss or other serious setbacks
How to Help Someone Struggling With Mental Health Issues
Improved mental health awareness can make it easier for you to spot people experiencing difficulties. How can you help someone in this situation? One key step is making the effort to talk to that person. A compassionate conversation at the right time may be essential to encourage them to get help.
You may also want to improve your knowledge of the specific condition affecting your friend or loved one. This will make it easier for you to act as a useful ally for them. Other steps you can take include:
- Researching appropriate treatment options
- Identifying qualified local providers of these treatments
- Helping your loved one take the practical steps needed to start treatment
Taking Care of Yourself
When helping someone affected by a mental illness, you must also make time to take care of yourself. Support groups exist for the families of people in need of mental health treatment. Participation in these groups allows you to seek advice from others in the same situation. It also allows you to discuss your challenges and experiences in a caring environment.
Address the Full Continuum of Mental Healthcare at Emerald Isle
The best approach to personal mental health awareness is broad-based. This means paying attention to your emotional and psychological well-being. It also means reporting any changes in your perceived well-being to your doctor or a mental health expert. By taking this step, you gain access to important guidance and advice. You also increase the odds that any damaging changes in your mental health will be detected as soon as possible.
At Emerald Isle Healthy & Recovery, we are keenly aware of the importance of maintaining your mental health. We also understand the pressing need for effective help when problems arise. That is why we offer a full continuum of mental healthcare services. These services include both brief and comprehensive mental health exams. They also include a full slate of options for treating mental health and substance problems.
All exams and treatments at Emerald Isle are geared toward your specific situation. Whether you are seeking information or quality treatment, we focus squarely on your unique background and current needs. To learn more about our mental health- and substance-related services, contact us today.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About Mental Health
- Australian Government Department of Health: Pathways of Recovery – 4As Framework for Preventing Further Episodes of Mental Illness: Awareness
- National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health – Common Mental Disorders: Identification and Pathways to Care – 2. Common Mental Health Disorders
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Mental Health Awareness Month
- National Institutes of Health: Emotional Wellness Toolkit
- American Psychiatric Association: Helping a Loved One Cope With a Mental Illness
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