To a lot of people, mental health is the missing puzzle piece that makes their person whole. You can be the richest in your friend group or the prettiest in your class, but if there’s a chemical imbalance in your body triggered by a mental health disorder or a stressful lifestyle, you may feel incomplete, lonely, or lost. And you must know that you are loved, and none of this is your fault.
Fortunately, people are beginning to realize that mental health is just as tangible as physical health. Mental health struggles are real, valid, and not for anyone to trivialize. About 10 percent of the total world population suffers from a mental health disorder, with a majority of them, especially in third world countries, living their lives undiagnosed.
When we are emotionally stable, we can appreciate the joys of life and the presence of those around us. We can imagine and pursue ideas and take risks that would otherwise be inhibited by mental illnesses. We can take the blows of life, like a loved one’s death, job loss, marital troubles, and other negative life scenarios—grieve, as part of human nature, and still have the stability to get up and continue life.
The National Institute of Mental Health advocates the slogan, “No Health, Without Mental Health.” However, the challenge of nurturing widespread mental health is curbed by the prevailing stigma surrounding the mentally ill. Compared to a broken arm, people with a mental diagnosis are more likely to be seen in a negative light by their community, discouraging people from getting a proper consultation and support program.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in every five American adults, or 18.5 percent, will suffer from a mental condition in any given year. Depression and bipolar disorders, autism, schizophrenia, dementia, and eating disorders are among the most common and often identified psychiatric illnesses. Depression is the number one cause of disability, affecting over 264 million people globally, and is also one of the most important contributors to the global mental health burden. Everyone can be affected by mental illnesses, regardless of race, gender, culture, age, sexuality, or sexual orientation.
Volunteering offers not only a warm feeling of purpose and meaning but a long-term effect on the people you’re helping. Volunteer, attend a club, or pursue a hobby and help develop other people’s skills. Set aside time every week or month to help your neighborhood in various community projects or initiate them yourself. To further interest or inform bystanders, you can work while wearing shirts for mental health awareness. This allows people to easily identify with your movement and creates a sense of community.
The way you speak about mental health will influence how others think about seeking treatment. It is critical to concentrate on the positive effects of therapy, such as learning to overcome PTSD symptoms, dealing with anxiety, or managing depression.
Promote the message that mental health care works and that healing is possible. Inspire people to seek care by emphasizing the options for mental health services. You can even start by wearing fun and engaging mental health awareness items like shirts, shoes, bracelets, even mugs that read inspiring slogans such as “Be Kind to Your Mind” or “Your Mental Health Matters.'' It’s a small yet touching way to make people feel better about themselves and their community.
Having an active lifestyle sure does wonders for your physical health, but did you know that it can also positively affect your mental state? Being healthy improves your mood and helps you sleep better—a luxury for many people. Go on a stroll, jog, or work out. Encourage a mate to join you in a marathon, arrange a community bike ride, or sign up for a gym membership. Simple changes to your everyday life will help you brighten your outlook and clear your mind.
Small yet constant acts of kindness, like being a welcoming presence for your loved ones or neighbors, can make you a source of comfort for those also fighting their own invisible battles. A reassuring presence and an enthusiasm to listen can make all the difference in lowering the barriers to sensitive topics, like mental health.
Mental illnesses are very difficult to pinpoint in yourself and others. Because of the negative stigma revolving around it, taking the first step towards improvement is all the more challenging. The least we can do is advocate for good mental health whenever we can and cherish the people around us. We don’t know who among our friends and family are secretly harboring heavy baggage, so let’s never forget to be kind. The world is already harsh enough as it is, so get your mental health shirt on and make a difference!