Mental health as defined by World Health Organization, is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of mental illness. It is the “psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment”. 1
Often times we misunderstand the importance of having our mental health needs addressed. You are called mad or crazy and thus many of us suffer because of the taboo on mental health.
I asked myself if there are mental illnesses that affect men only and any that affect women only. Well I did not get a straight answer on that one but based on my research I was made aware that mental health does have some aptitude of gender biases and although men tend to suffer more from suicide, women are generally more affected by the more common mental disorders. I shall continue my research but this year as the focus of mental health week is on the prevention of suicide it is critical for me to dispel the myths of mental health and shed light on some facts with you just to get us all to understand the dire need for seeking to help persons and ourselves with our mental health issues.
FACT: “Over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and there are many more who attempt suicide. Hence, many millions of people are affected or experience suicide bereavement every year. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year old globally in 2012.” 2
With that being said can you actually tell me a mental health myth and a mental health fact?
Mental health problems does not affect everyone. Can that one be considered a myth of a fact? Truth is mental health is pretty much like HIV or any other STI, although you may not be infected, it does affects us all. Take for instance depression. This is one of if not the most common mental disorder affecting at least 350 million people globally with majority of those being women and young people. It enables disability and has the ability to fuel suicide. We are therefore left footing the bills for treatment of any other expense that may occur and sometimes left feeling hopeless as our friends and families suffer. Thus we are all affected.
Children do not experience mental problems. Actually it is the second leading cost of death among young people between the ages of 15-29 years old. Half of these affected person start showing signs before or by the age of 14.
People with mental health disorders find it stressful holding down a job. If we invest in our health and treatment this too can be shunned as with effective treatment person with mental disorders are just as productive as anyone else. Encouraging this will be equivalent to lower medical cost and social burden costs through increased productivity.
Persons diagnosed with a medical disorder can be due to:
- Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
Self-care and therapy however can aid in their process of recovery.
One of the major barrier in receiving effective treatment, as only half of these affected persons receive treatment, is the social stigma that is associated with mental health. 3 It will be a long shot for us to say we will eradicate this social taboo on mental health but family and friend support is an important factor in getting us the treatment and services we need for our mental health issues. Merely reaching out to someone and providing moral support helps a lot. Learning and sharing the facts and refraining from labeling persons by their mental health disorder also helps. But most importantly treating them with respects as you would anyone else.
This mental health week I vow to promote the social and emotional well-being of young people via shared knowledge. I strongly believe that this will increase productivity, enhance educational outcomes, strengthen our economy, lower crime rate and health care expenses and most importantly improve our quality of life and family life.
Therefore it is imperative for us to focus on the mental health needs of women and have them met in an effort to end suicide and increase our longevity because suicide is committed by people just like you and I.
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