World Mental Health Day

Posted by on Oct 10, 2018 in ComLead

World Mental Health Day

Prevention begins with better understanding.

To follow up last week’s blog on Mental Illness Awareness Week, there is more to say on the subject of mental illness and the stigmas against it. October 10 is World Mental Health Day so take this day as initiative to pay more attention to yourself and the people around you.

Many people assume that in order to justify help with your mental health, you have to have a severe case of depression or anxiety. Fortunately this is not actually the case and a day like this should be a reminder to everyone. Your mental health does not have to be crippling in order to justify seeking support. Treat your mental health the way you treat your physical health and if you notice that something does not feel right, then take the first step and acknowledge it. After all, the mind impacts your entire body.

As of July 1, the Mental Health Law came into effect requiring all elementary, middle and high schools across New York State to teach about mental health. Mental illness can start as early as 8 years old in some cases, so imagine how beneficial it can be for these students to grow up being informed and knowledgeable on the different realms of mental illness that can affect them.

Since education is a major force in breaking a stigma, here is some general information and symptoms of some of the more common mental illnesses:

Anxiety Disorder: Disorders involving an excessive fear and/or anxiety (anticipation of threat) paired with behavior and functional disturbances. There are many different types of anxiety disorders so here is a brief breakdown of a couple of them:

  • Separation Anxiety: Excessive anxiety in response to separation from home or a major attachment figure.
  • Specific Phobia: Excessive or disproportionate fear of an object or situation (flying, blood, animals, etc.) triggering a fear response or panic attack.
  • Social Anxiety: Excessive fear of being humiliated in social situations, often resulting in avoidance of socializing or performing in front of others.
  • Agoraphobia: Excessive fear in relation to being in or anticipating situations where a person feels that they cannot escape such as: public transportation, open spaces, enclosed spaces, crowded places, and being outside of the home.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Excessive or uncontrollable worry over events, activities, and potential outcomes.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Repeated/persistent thoughts that cause distress so much so that an individual attempts to alleviate the feelings by repeating specific actions or “compulsions”.

Panic Disorder/Panic Attack: Sudden and intense anxiety often experienced with rapid breathing, enhanced heartrate, chest pain, trembling, dizzy spells, chills, and/or  more. For many people, experiencing a panic attack may feel as if you are having a heart attack, stroke, or even dying. It can be a result of disorder, a phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress, and more.

Depression: Feelings of intense sadness often experienced with: tiredness and lack of energy, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, difficulty focusing and making decisions, trouble falling asleep or sleeping too much, lack of interest in activities, thoughts of death or suicide, changes in weight, and more.

Eating Disorder: Extreme emotions and behaviors involving a person’s weight and food such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

Addiction Disorder: An extreme involvement in an object of addiction such as drugs or alcohol which often pushes the effected person to ignore responsibilities and relationships.

Keep in mind these are only a few of the more common mental illnesses and these descriptions are not diagnoses or universal.

The first thing that someone should do when they are effected by any of these examples is to speak with a doctor because different people may find relief in different ways. For some it can be as simple as practicing breathing exercises to help reduce feelings of anxiety, and others may need medical assistance. Your mind is a complex thing and none of them work the same way.

In the meantime, use today as a reason to pay more attention to your mental health and the mental health of those around you. Speak up, speak out, and listen to others. If we are not educated on these mental illnesses then we cannot help them and the stigma will only continue.

And if you feel afraid to speak up and reach out to someone, here are some inspiring words to help:
“Even when the dark comes crashing through, when you need a friend to carry you,
and when you’re broken on the ground, you will be found.
So let the sun come streaming in ‘cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again.
Lift your head and look around, you will be found.”
–  “You Will Be Found”, Dear Evan Hansen.

Resources: Mental Health: Types of Mental Illness
Why You Should Pay Attention to World Mental Health Day – Forbes
Mental Health Education Now Required in New York Schools
What Is Depression? – WebMD

Devon Bradley, M.S. Communication & Leadership ’19

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