Almost half of the adolescents in the United States suffer from a mental health disorder, a statistic which is alarming. The social stigma around mental illness makes it difficult for people suffering from it to open up to others about their condition and they suffer in silence. Mental health is defined as a level of psychological well-being or an absence of mental illness. Often mental illness is misunderstood, neglected, and not readily accepted by people. More and more people and institutions are making people aware of the truth about mental health.
Mental illness does not come from a single factor. It is a result of a wide range of conditions that affect a person’s thoughts, mood, and behavior. These conditions include persistent depression, sadness, and anxiety, as well as post-traumatic stress, anorexia, bulimia, loneliness, dementia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, and other mental disorders.
Young People & Mental Health in a Changing World
70% of the young and adults who suffer from mental illness have not had the proper diagnosis at its early stage. This is because there is a huge gap in the understanding and awareness about mental health across the globe. According to the National Institute of Mental Health 2016 report, one in five (44.7 mn) adults lives with a mental illness in the US. Mental illness can affect people of all ages, gender, race, and ethnicity.
The fast-paced world leaves the youth with little time to think about their actions and behavior. An activity as simple as binge-watching, which is very frequently and casually used by people, can also harm the emotional state of the person. Dr. Alec Tefertiller of Kansas State University performed a study which reveals that the emotional states experienced after binge-watching has implications for entertainment gratifications. The term “entertainment gratification” refers to a state where a person watches a certain type of entertainment to experience a specific feeling, which is often lacked in one’s life. Thus, someone who lacks romance in life would prefer to watch romantic series in order to experience the feeling of love virtually. This is also applicable to a woman who is suffering from PMS may prefer to listen to sad, emotional songs.
Every year, 10th October is celebrated as World Mental Health Day. An initiative started by World Federation for Mental Health in 1992 has become more important with passing time. It helps spread awareness, educate, and break the social stigma about mental illness. The study makes it clear why this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen the theme of ‘Young people and mental health in a changing world’ for this day. According to WHO, “Evidence is growing that promoting and protecting adolescent health brings benefits not just to adolescents’ health, both in the short- and the long-term, but also to economies and society, with healthy young adults able to make greater contributions to the workforce, their families and communities and society as a whole.”
Your Actions & Behavior Matter
How we behave and talk to a person suffering from a mental health issue matters. There are remarks that can hurt and those that can help.
Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation surveyed 3000 young (aged 15 to 24 years) Americans on mental health and wellness. Here are some of the key findings of the survey, “Kind Communities – A Bridge to Youth Mental Wellness.”
- Nearly 80% of students who said their high school has a kind environment had the highest mental health scores.
- 36% of school students reported that their schools do not have dedicated classes on mental health.
- Parents overestimated how likely their child was to open up to them about the difficult situations.
- 82% of young people look for online resources to connect to people facing a similar mental situation.
- 70% of young adults having mental issues reported that their symptoms started in childhood.
You Can Win The Mental Health Battle
Self-care, positive outlook, and recreational activities go a long way in enhancing mental health. A few activities that may help you cope better with your mental health battle include:
- Recreational activity: Art therapy is the best activity for those suffering from depression, says a study conducted by Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg. A simple doodle which allows the patient to express freely can relieve stress and spread happiness.
- Physical activity: Different forms of movement including exercise, yoga, dance, sports, and walking can easily distract the brain. “For some people exercise works as well as antidepressants, although exercise alone isn’t enough for someone with severe depression,” says Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
- Self-care: Reading self-help books, spending time with family and loved ones, forgiving oneself, eating without guilt, getting counseled, and doing things that make you happy are just a few activities that will boost self-esteem. It is important to care for self just as you care for others.
Take away: Mental health is a serious issue. It is your moral duty to help yourself and others facing any kind of mental issues. Spread the awareness. Mental disorders are real and they are curable. It is important to step forward and seek help. Be kind, have a positive lookout, and approach the problem just like you’d approach any other health issue.