world mental health day

Focusing on Mental Health: Discussing the Importance of World Mental Health Day

We are in the middle of a pandemic, but it is certainly not the only health problem facing the world. We are also in the middle of a mental and behavioral health crisis. For numerous reasons, more and more people are learning about their mental health issues and getting the care they need. However, it’s scary to think about all of the people who still remain undiagnosed. 

Many people lack education. Others have the education, but they don’t get the help they need due to the stigma of having a mental illness. People with a mental illness have been seen as “weak” or “crazy” instead of being seen as people with a medical diagnosis that requires attention. That’s why mental health professionals lobbied for International Mental Health Day go showcase the importance of mental health awareness.

International Mental Health Day is a day designed to increase awareness and encourage people who suffer from mental illness to seek help to enrich their lives as well as the people around them. We celebrate International Mental Health Day this year on October 10, 2020.

The Mental Health Problem

18% of people in the United States have a mental health condition. Of course, it’s important to understand that these are only the people who come forward to get help. There are a number of people who go through life with mental and behavioral health problems every day but never get help, increasing the importance of mental health awareness. 

Some of the most prevalent mental health conditions include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • addiction
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • bipolar
  • schizophrenia
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Depression

Depression is a disorder characterized by sadness and a lack of enthusiasm for things that someone once loved. It can get so bad that someone may even consider taking their own life.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a disorder characterized by high tension and paranoia. The individual may experience general nervousness their entire life, or it may come up in particular situations.

Addiction

Addiction is a disorder characterized by the abuse and overindulgence of mind-altering substances, such as alcohol or heroin. The drug takes control over the person until they finally regain control back of their life.

OCD

OCD is a disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and reactionary compulsive behaviors. One example involves compulsive cleaning to control obsessive thoughts about germs and dirtiness.

Bipolar Disorder 

Bipolar is a disorder characterized by intense mood swings. One moment, the person can be on cloud nine, happy, and excited. The next moment, they could be in a depressive state seemingly out of nowhere. They will also typically behave rather impulsively, making rash life decisions or shocking purchases.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a disorder characterized by delusions and altered perceptions of reality. People with schizophrenia may hear or see things that aren’t actually there, and these hallucinations can severely alter a person’s behavior.

PTSD

PTSD is a disorder characterized by flashbacks to trauma. It is often associated with soldiers returned from war or people who have suffered from abuse or a serious accident. The person can be triggered by certain sounds or situations. alternatively, the person can experience flashbacks completely out of nowhere.

Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

Throughout history, people who suffered from mental illness were treated as though they were crazy and possibly even dangerous. This was largely due to a lack of understanding of mental and behavioral health despite the efforts of many to learn more about the topic. People with mental illness may have been seen as possessed. In many cases, treatments were intense. 

If the treatment didn’t work, the person was generally discarded and forced to live in a confined environment with less than adequate accommodations. Even as we learned more, mental health facilities did not have proper facilities. Plus, treatment could even involve the removal of the brain or electric shock therapy. These treatments could permanently alter a person’s brain and personality to the point of serious cognitive deficiency.

Mental Health in the Media 

It doesn’t help how mental illness is often portrayed in the media. In many movies and television shows, mental illness is not represented properly. One common misrepresentation is confusing schizophrenia with a dissociative identity disorder. This misrepresentation only increases confusion about the topic. 

Due to fear, people then make assumptions about mental illness that it seems scary and dangerous. This makes others want to isolate people in their life with mental illness instead of offering understanding and compassion.

The importance of mental health awareness becomes a social concept. We need to offer support and understanding in order to help. That’s how we can remove the stigma and help people become valuable members of society instead of people with a disease.

Treatment for Mental Illness

It’s important for us as a society to recognize the importance of mental health awareness. When people are aware they have a problem, they are more likely to get treatment. 

Of course, it is up to the person suffering to get the treatment available to them. Someone with a mental health problem must take it upon themselves to get help, just like anyone with a health condition such as diabetes needs to get help. It’s that person’s responsibility to get help in order to be able to take care of themselves and the other people in their life. Luckily, there are a number of options when it comes to mental health treatment.

Lifestyle Changes

You may be surprised at how much simple changes in your daily habits can really affect your mental and behavioral health. Start small by taking care of your physical health. Eat foods filled with nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. 

Avoid foods high in fat but low in nutrients, such as potato chips. You should also make a point to exercise a couple of times a week to keep your body active. There are a number of other changes that could help, to, including:

  • drinking more water
  • sleeping 7- 9 every night
  • keeping your home clean
  • developing healthy relationships

Therapy

Therapy gives you the opportunity to talk about your issues with a trained professional in a safe environment. You will be able to talk about whatever you want to talk about. If you have nothing to say, your therapist can help guide the conversation in the right direction. The therapist will be able to help you identify your problems and get you back on the right track.

You can go to one-on-one therapy or group therapy with people who suffer from similar conditions. One-on-one therapy is a good idea for someone with very personal issues that they wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about in front of a group. Group therapy is a good idea for people who want to develop a support system or need help interacting with other people and making friends.

Medication

Many mental disorders are the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Generally speaking, this imbalance involves neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. This chemical imbalance can sometimes be realigned with the help of medication. The medications will increase or decrease the number of neurotransmitters in the brain. There are different medications for different disorders. Some common medications for mental disorders include:

  • anti-depressants
  • anti-psychotics
  • mood stabilizers
  • stimulants
  • anti-anxiety

Medications can be effective and may be absolutely necessary in some situations. That being said, medications can also have some very serious side effects. In some cases, they may even become addictive. For these reasons, many people are looking for alternative treatments.

Holistic Treatments

There are options for people who don’t want to take medication. There are a number of holistic treatments designed to make someone feel better. Many people will use crystals or other ways to manifest positive energy. While lacking in substantiated evidence, the crystals can have a positive effect on people. 

Other people may choose to try acupuncture or other eastern medicine practices. These practices have been in place for thousands of years, but they have recently been applied to mental health.

Mental Health Rehabilitation

In some serious cases, the best answer could be intensive rehabilitation. In rehab, the patient will learn how to manage their illness. They will also be properly medicated if necessary. 

There are two min types of rehab: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient treatment involves going to an on-site location and essentially living at the facility for an extended period of time. This is the most intensive treatment. The patient has round-the-clock care, and they are being monitored constantly, keeping them (and others) safe. 

Outpatient treatment involves going to treatment for 4-8 hours a day but still getting the opportunity to go home. This can be better for people who have certain responsibilities they just can’t forego in order to go to inpatient treatment.

International Mental Health Day is an important day in the world of mental and behavioral health. It’s crucial for us as a society to acknowledge the importance of mental health awareness so that people feel comfortable coming forward with their problems and getting the help they desperately need. 

If we don’t allow people to get help freely, more sons, daughters, friends, and spouses will take their own life or go through life miserable. Let’s get these people the help they need instead of shaming them. Show your support for International Mental Health Day this October 10th.

Contact Us Today 

At Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, our team of treatment specialists can help help you find the program that works for you. Treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We utilize a blend of traditional treatment methods as well as more holistic approaches. But most importantly, treatment is centered around you and regaining your health and freedom from addiction. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health disorder or addiction, it’s time to get help. Contact us today for more information.

Article Reviewed by Gregory Struve

Gregory StruveGreg received a Master’s in Counseling from the Adler Graduate School in 2006. He trained at one of the top trauma and anxiety treatment centers in the world until 2008 when he became a faculty member at Grand Canyon University. From 2011 to 2016 he directed a program that leads the field in terms of innovative treatment of anxiety and trauma. During that time he even made several appearances on A&E’s intervention.