World Mental Health Day
Created in 1992, World Mental Health Day (October 10th) is part of an initiative to raise awareness about the importance of mental health care. At the time, little was publically known about mental illness or how to treat these disorders. What started as a way to inform and demystify untrue information on mental health and discuss its importance became more than that.
World Mental Health Day has found ways to advocate and improve mental health care worldwide. Another goal of World Mental Health Day is to overcome taboos and prejudices linked to mental illnesses. For years, many have avoided seeking help due to fear of judgement, when in fact, mental illnesses are more common than we think.
Each year, there is a new theme and a campaign for World Mental Health Day as a way to tackle multiple issues globally. For 2020, the campaign goal is increasing investment on mental health. Unfortunately, high costs and lack of coverage might stop people from getting the help they need. There’s a need to increase accessibility to resources so that people can truly afford the help they need.
World Mental Health Day is also a day for people to share their experiences and knowledge on mental health. This is not just a way to educate people on mental health, but also a reminder that no one is alone in their struggle.
What Should I Know About Mental Health?
Mental health comprises the wellbeing of one’s emotional, social, and psychological health. These disorders can affect mood, behavior, emotions, thinking, and even judgement. Mental disorders can be occasional or chronic. They can be triggered by a life-changing event, though a genetic factor and family history does come into play as well.
With time, the medical community has been more vocal about how mental health can affect more than mental aspects of a person’s life. Once mental health is affected, the way a person lives changes, and consequently, anything else around them can suffer. From routine physical symptoms to serious conditions, many non-mental issues have been linked to poor mental health.
Around 20% of adults in the U.S. experience some kind of mental disorder. That number only goes down to 16.5% among youths aged 6 to 17 in the country. This essentially means that 1 in every 5 people report experiencing mental disorders. That number has been increasing with time among young adults. Meanwhile, though the percentage of adults with mental illnesses stayed the same, suicide ideation spiked.
Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This year, World Mental Health Day is extra important due to the coronavirus pandemic. Multiple studies have shown that mental health issues have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Factors such as instability, isolation, lack of resources and many more can worsen one’s mental health. The pandemic has proven how we still need to improve how we view mental health care.
Though usually about 20% of adults report experiencing mental disorders, in June of 2020, that number went up to 31%. About 13% of them started or increased substance use by then. Tragically, about 1 in every 10 adult stated that they considered suicide as well.
Signs of Mental Illness
Mental illnesses can trigger multiple symptoms and issues for each person. There are numerous spectrums and possible diagnoses, and each person will manifest it differently. Still, there are some common denominators between illnesses, which can be considered red flags when combined.
In addition to that, it is important to keep in mind that mental disorders cause multiple symptoms. Feeling anxious or sad from time to time is not the same as having an anxiety disorder or being clinically depressed. That said, most common signs of mental illnesses include:
- Experiencing feelings of sadness
- Difficulty thinking or being able to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, sometimes triggering panic attacks
- Experiencing and/or demonstration guilt constantly
- Displaying extreme mood changes
- Self-isolation, not socializing with friends or engaging in activities they enjoyed
- Constant and significant tiredness and low energy most days
- Insomnia and difficulty sleeping
- Extreme detachment from reality, displaying delusions, paranoia, and/or hallucinations
- Difficulty coping with daily chores, tasks, problems, and/or stress
- Engaging in alcohol or drug abuse to extreme extents
- Changes in eating habits (either too much or too little)
- Increased (hypersexuality) or lowered libido
- Excessive anger, irritability, hostility, or even violence
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide ideation
A person who checks off multiple times from this list might be in need of mental health care. Whether they are a response of a life-changing event or not, experiencing these for more than two weeks can be worrisome. Though it is natural for a person to feel depressed due to grief, for instance, it is different from an actual disorder. The longer you take to seek help and/or treatment, the worse the disorder might get.
The way a person manifests these symptoms and which ones they experience will depend on the disorder. Only a licensed professional can officially diagnose someone with a mental disorder. In fact, only after an official diagnosis can a person know what to do to improve their mental health. More often than not, self-diagnosing and self-medication cause more harm than good.
Types of Mental Health Disorders
Officially, there are more than 200 different types of mental disorders, which all fall under different categories. A person might also suffer from more than one mental disorder at once, making them co-occurring disorders. Some of the most common disorder categories are:
People who suffer from anxiety disorders will make a person feel almost constantly like in imminent danger. Excessive fear, worry, and extreme responses are different than occasional anxiety and butterflies in one’s stomach. Chronic anxiety or anxiety disorders might cause phobias, social anxiety, and even panic attacks.
All depressive disorders are defined by feelings of sadness and constant low mood. But they are manifested and experienced differently, depending on the disorder. Their duration also varies, and they usually come with other symptoms as well. Some of them are irritability, changes in sleeping and eating cycles, lack of concentration, guilt, and sometimes, suicidal thought.
Characterized commonly by mood swings and extreme changes in mood, activity, and energy levels. People dealing with bipolar disorders will experience mania episodes (elevated moods) and depressive episodes. The way and the duration in which they are experienced dictates which bipolar disorder a person has.
The most commonly known disorder in this category is schizophrenia. Psychotic disorders cause abnormal thinking and detachment from reality. Those who suffer from psychotic disorders might experience delusions and hallucinations. At times, the person may become violent and engage in risky behavior.
Substance Abuse Disorders
Addiction, or substance abuse disorder, is defined by a constant need to consume certain toxins. They might be triggered as a result of an attempt to “self-medicate”, and/or genetic components. They often co-occur with other mental disorders, and they also affect them while feeding off of them.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD, as the name suggests, is caused by traumatic events. A person might experience symptoms right away or may take months to develop them. They will often relive the experience along with other symptoms, and try to avoid triggers. Flashbacks, nightmares, bursts of emotion like anger, and exaggerated startle responses are some of the signs of PTSD.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Unlike what many think, suffering from OCD is more than being extra organized and clean. They are defined by compulsions or obsessions in general, and in some cases, both. Obsessions are persistent thoughts and urges that can cause anxiety and distress. Compulsions are when excessive behaviors become repetitive, and come with a dire need of fulfillment. Only when they are time consuming and cause significant distress can they be considered OCD.
How To Improve Mental Health
Information is the key to improving mental health both individually and as people of the world. Websites like SAMHSA and CDC.gov have information on multiple topics as well as resources for those in need. People are often not aware of ways to make mental health care more affordable, and don’t see help because of that. Sharing this information with loved ones is a great way to help.
Participating in campaigns like World Mental Health Day, Yellow September, and seeking out official websites can help you learn about how to raise awareness. Through sharing fact-checked, reliable information, people will know more about how to help others and themselves.
As previously mentioned, the issue at hand this year on World Mental Health Day is investing more on mental health. Demanding better measures and policies from local and federal government is a way to help. Looking for local initiatives and groups that push for better funding will directly affect investment on mental health as well.
Most importantly, working on mental health is long-term, day-to-day work. Therapy should not be for moments of crisis, and it is highly recommended to everyone. It is a great tool to prevent mental health issues and for self-discovery.
Contact Us Today
To learn more about World Mental Health Day and how to receive treatment, contact us today!