Today is the 10th of October, 2020 and it’s also World Mental Health Day. Mental Health has been recently gaining a lot of traction and I hope that everybody soon understands how important of a role mental health plays in all our lives. I know that it’s easier said than done – but we all have to start somewhere. And in this essay, I’ve highlighted the two things that we can do to start somewhere – as a society.
(Disclaimer: I wrote this essay for a competition.)
Mental Health is a crucial component of health. The WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
According to WHO (World Health Organization), Mental Health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the “normal” stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can contribute to his or her community.
Mental Health can be broadly-looked at in terms of how well the person can cope with their environment; how effective they are; how confident, competent and capable they feel. They also be looked at in terms of how effectively they can handle stress; how well the individual can develop and sustain relationships; and how effectively they can face problems, resolve them and learn from them.
People with good physical health can still have underlying emotional and mental issues/problems. That can cause the individual to be isolated from society and hinder their growth in all aspects of life. It should also be understood that mental illness varies in degree. It depends on the intensity, duration and type of illness. So, generalizing and stating that a few types of behaviour apply to all mental health issues – is not an accurate statement.
There are still – a lot of stigmas associated with mental health. People assume that people with mental health issues are outcasts and different. These stigmas can also be a reason that people – even now – hesitate to seek help and would rather hide their pain, and try to handle it by themselves. These stigmas not only impact the person and their need to seek help – but it also impacts the societies’ ability to provide proper care and treatment for those who need it.
There are a couple of things that we can individually do – that can act as a catalyst towards understanding mental health issues better – which eventually everyone catches on and follows:
- Educate Ourselves: We ought to read and learn about mental health. We should equip ourselves and understand the different types of mental health issues. We should also try to understand the difference between mental illnesses and mental health problems. We must learn to understand the reasons or causes of such mental health issues and the impact it has on the individual, their physical health, their family and loved ones. We should also try to help the person undergoing such mental health issues to seek help. Proper mental health education can lessen the stigma around mental illness and reduce the discrimination against the mentally ill.
- Wholehearted Acceptance: This is something that I think that we all need to learn. We must learn to understand how important it is to accept anyone and everyone. We should be mindful enough to comprehend where this other person is coming from and what they have experienced. We should start by accepting the fact that we do not know their whole story. We should learn to accept the person going through mental health issues, and that we see them as an individual first and then as someone struggling with their mental health.
To conclude, even though stigmas still exist – it is also important to note that we have already come a long way. We finally understand that needing help for mental or emotional reasons does not represent a character flaw. We finally understand the need to promote mental health and educate everybody. We finally understand the importance mental health plays in all our lives – irrespective of the age, gender, cultural background or religion. Now that we understand the need – it’s time to promote and better the lives of people suffering from mental health issues and reduce the stigma to a bare minimum.
Be kind, be aware and stay positive. Happy Mental Health Day!