BY: VAIBHAVI MENON
“The only journey is the journey within.” Being raised in an Indian household, mental health was something that was frowned upon or considered unimportant while academic scores decided how happy you were or would be in life. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization, is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”
Mental illnesses affect 19% of the adult population, 46% of teenagers and 13% of children each year. People struggling with their mental health may be in your family, live next door, teach your children, work in the next cubicle or sit in the same church pew. However, only half of those affected receive treatment, often because of the stigma attached to mental health. Untreated, mental illness can contribute to higher medical expenses, poorer performance at school and work, fewer employment opportunities and increased risk of suicide. Stress can be the cause mental health problems and make existing problems worse. For example, if you often struggle to manage feelings of stress, you might develop a mental health problem like anxiety or depression. Mental health problems can cause stress. You might find coping with the day-to-day symptoms of your mental health problem, as well as potentially needing to manage medication, heath care appointments or treatments, can become extra sources of stress. Stress can impact on how you feel physically. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, also known as Mental Health Month. It has been observed each May in the United States since 1949. It has never been more important than now to recognize that mental health is an essential component to one’s overall health and wellbeing, and that mental illnesses are common and treatable. While it may be that some of us are more vulnerable than others, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. After all, just a few months ago, none of us had any idea that all our worlds would be upended by the coronavirus, and that worry, isolation, loneliness, depression and anxiety would become collective experiences shared by literally everyone. By virtue of our birthright, as human beings none of us are immune. Perhaps this collective experience of living with the emotional and psychological impacts brought on by COVID will help cultivate not only more awareness of mental health issues, but more compassion too. One can hope. According to a 2017 Centers for Disease Control report, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 47,000 people. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. There were more than twice as many suicides in the United States as there were homicides.
Therefore mental health is very important and we should do our part by talking to others and listening to the ones in need of it.