Importance of Mental Health awareness in a Pandemic

Have you checked yourself and your mental health lately? Today let's talk about Mental Health Awareness and how the COVID19 pandemic played a factor in one's mental health.

As a physician quite often we focus on just the physical aspects of health to determine if someone is really healthy. Like how much do you weigh, what is your blood pressure and how is your cholesterol. But one of the many things I appreciate my wife for as a therapist is that the aspect of mental health must be front and center if you are going to obtain optimal health status.

It’s why, here in the Lunch and Learn Community, we stress mental health almost as much as we stress the physical aspects of it.  I have lost count of the number of times I was dealing with a patient who was deemed “non-compliant”. But really had so many mental barriers in front of them that it did not matter what medication I did or the education I provided. 

Almost everyone is a victim of mental illness, either directly or indirectly. One way or another, there's a time in our lives where we feel like we aren't ourselves. It's sometimes a feeling we fail, we cease, and we ignore to recognize. 

Today, mental illnesses affect 19% of the adult population, 46% of teenagers, and 13% of children each year. People are struggling with mental illness from all walks of life, even those who give out the best smiles. Even more so now that the COVID-10 pandemic has drastically changed most people's lives, resulting in even more cases of people with mental illness.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, let's normalize talking about these mental health conditions to help stop the stigma. Let's learn more about mental health in this time of Pandemic paradigm.

Understanding What is Mental Health

It's an expression we use every day. It's no surprise that ‘mental health' is often misunderstood.

According to World Health Organization, Mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual realizes their own potential, can cope with the everyday stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to their community.”

Today, ‘Mental health' is often used for mental health conditions — depression, anxiety conditions, schizophrenia, and others. But how do mental health and mental illness differ from each other? Let's learn more!

Mental Health and Mental Illness

“Mental health is about wellness rather than illness.”

When we talk about mental health, we're talking about one's mental well-being — our emotions, thoughts, and feelings, ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, social connections, and our understanding of the world around us.

Meanwhile, mental illness is a condition that affects the way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others. There are many different mental illnesses, and they have various symptoms that impact peoples' lives in different ways.

Mental Illness Awareness Week: What Is it, Why is it Celebrated?

You may wonder, Mental Illness Awareness Week, what for?

With so many adults experiencing mental illness each year, i's no surprise that conversations about a mental health condition aren't a normal occurrence with your friends, family, and, most importantly, your doctor. People mostly feel like it's something they can't talk to people about.

That is why each year, organizations and participants across the country raise awareness about mental illness, fight discrimination, and provide support through Mental Illness Awareness Week. 

This week for mental illness awareness provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates to come together as one unified voice. This gives a beacon of light for people struggling with mental illness, even to those who don't realize it yet. 

Why is Mental Health Awareness Important This Pandemic

Being aware of your overall health is essential to be mindful of any symptoms, problems, and issues you may have. Many things can affect your mental health, and some of them may go unnoticed.

While everyone is familiar with the symptoms and treatment options for common illnesses that affect their loved ones, like the flu, migraines, but for mental health, it's a different story — some people are unsure how to look after their mental health.

This is why raising mental health awareness can help you better understand where your emotions are coming from. It allows you to understand your symptoms and find professional treatment. Moreover, it also breaks the mental health stigma that leaves so many people struggling on their own.

Mental Health During Pandemic

The covid-19 pandemic has heavily burdened a lot of people. For over a year now, most people have struggled with losing their jobs, staying at home, and finding a way to live life still.

Not everyone is as fortunate as others have. Moreover, there are also dreams put to halt, careers that have been paused, and plans that didn't happen.

Now that we are in a new normal, some people still feel like it's hard to cope up. It's also the same effect when the world faced pandemic — the transition to the new normal still gives off a considerable degree of fear, worry, and concern.

Signs of Mental Health Issues

Can you spot the difference between a bad mood and something more serious? To help you better understand your mental health, here are the top 5 signs to reassure you that there might be good reasons to seek more information about your concerns.

1. Emotional Outbursts

Everyone has different moods, but sudden and dramatic changes in mood, such as extreme distress or anger, can be a symptom of mental illness.

2. Trouble Sleeping

Do you find it hard to sleep at night? Lasting changes to a person's sleep patterns could be a symptom of a mental health disorder. For example, insomnia could be a sign of anxiety or substance abuse. 

Sleeping too much or too little could indicate depression or a sleeping disorder as well.

3. Weight or Appetite Changes

For some people, fluctuating weight or rapid weight loss could be one of the warning signs of a mental health disorder — such as depression or an eating disorder.

4. Quiet or Withdrawn

Withdrawing from life, especially if this is a significant change, could indicate a mental health disorder. If a friend or loved one is regularly isolating themselves, this may affect their mental health. Refusing to join in social activities may be a sign they need help, especially if they aren't usually like this.

5. Feeling Guilty or Excessively Blames Self

Thoughts like ‘I'm a failure, ‘It's my fault' or ‘I'm worthless' are all possible signs of a mental health disorder. This can also result in depression.

Your friend or loved one may need help if they're frequently criticizing or blaming themselves. When severe, a person may express a feeling to hurt or kill themselves. This feeling could mean the person is suicidal and urgent help is needed. 

Be Part of the Movement

How to advocate for mental health awareness?

Mental health can be a heavy topic for some people, but we can take this lightly and uplift others by normalizing these conversations. Just like our emotions should be seen as normal too. 

The good news is anyone can be a mental health advocate. You can make a difference and improve people's lives with a mental illness by using your voice to fight stigma, raise awareness, and support others. 

You can be a mental health advocate in ways you know how. Take part in movements in social media, register to local organizations, or simply become a person to go by your friends or the people closest to you.

With the right support and tools, anyone can live well—however, they define well, find meaning, contribute to their communities, and work towards their goals.

If you have trouble finding that support, a search for a “mental health advocate” + “your city” will definitely point you in the right direction.

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