May is Mental Health Month.
Many people suffer in silence. You may, in fact, know someone who is suffering from mental illness, or maybe it’s time to recognize issues in yourself.
It is not uncommon for people to neglect their mental health. Sure we talk about medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and even cancer. However, we shy away from discussing struggles like depression, bipolar, and anxiety.
I was diagnosed with anxiety a few years ago. A few months after my father passed, I found myself experiencing symptoms that were suddenly interfering with my everyday life. That is when I finally was forced to face I had a problem.
Many years ago, I was working on my psychology degree and took a class in abnormal psychology. Within the first six weeks, I grew concerned that I had every mental disorder we discussed. Finally, one of the other students spoke up in class and professed the same feelings. As it turns out, nearly every person in the class was freaking out. Our professor told us that we all tend to have minor issues with different mental illnesses; however, it’s not a problem unless it interferes with our life. It was interfering with my life!
I was experiencing the following:
- heart racing
- trouble breathing
- sleep issues
- extreme fatigue
- racing thoughts
The big one was inability to control worry – this symptom was threw the roof. I would replay every conversation I had during the day when I went to bed: which probably explained my sleep issues. I finally saw my doctor, and it was a relief to know my symptoms could be controlled. In retrospect, I wish I had seen a physician much earlier in my life.
Mental health month
With it being Mental Health Month, It has never been more critical than now to recognize that mental health is an essential part of one’s overall health and wellbeing.
May has been Mental Health Month since 1949. Why should you care? Mental illness is probably more common than you think. In fact, one in five adults is dealing with serious mental illness. In fact, it has never been more important to recognize that having healthy mental health is essential to overall health and wellbeing.
The stigma around mental health and treatment has long existed, though it’s becoming more normalized given the pandemic. In the past, people have hesitated to seek help or talk to loved ones about mental health for fear of judgment. Simple logic tells us if we are hurt physically or mentally, we should seek treatment.
“The WhyCare? campaign is an opportunity to share the importance of mental health treatment, support, and services. to the millions of people, families, caregivers, and loved ones affected by mental illness,” says NAMI, “and a challenge to address broken systems and attitudes that present barriers to treatment and recovery.”
Mental Health Month and similar public interest campaigns are raising awareness and help those in need. However, most people then go back to their daily routines and don’t think much about this persistent problem unless they are personally affected. It is time to remove the stigma and recognize that mental health shouldn’t be hidden or feared rather, it should be recognized and taken care much like diabetes or cancer.
What you can do for yourself
#1. Take care of yourself and see a physician.
We all have ups and downs; some can be solved while others do not. When you feel overwhelmed or that something is happening that interferes with your life, it may be time to see your physician.
#2. Take care of those that you love.
Many people have been having difficulties with their mental health. Whether someone is suffering from extreme mood swings (bipolar) or appears to suffer from pervasive low moods (depression) or a more severe condition, check up on friends and family. Even if it’s just a shoulder to cry on or someone who may be lonely – take the time to check up on them.
#3. Help normalize mental health.
One of the best ways to get rid of the mental health stigma is to talk to people about it. The more we talk about mental health the more it becomes normalized.