When the words ‘mental health’ are used in any capacity, most people automatically think ‘crazy’. However, mental health actually refers to a person’s well-being, how well a person can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. Taking care of your mind and mental state is just like having your annual physical or going to the doctor if you’re feeling ill. Sometimes, especially when dealing with everyday stressors, we need to do a mental check in order to make sure that we aren’t mentally drained. Like a doctor may prescribe medication or direct us to do certain things to maintain our health, we may need support from a professional with maintaining our mental health. This may mean needing to see a therapist. Seeing a therapist does not necessarily mean that you are crazy. It simply means that you need help and there’s nothing wrong or weak about asking for help.
Now, let’s look at the term mental illness. Mental illness refers to a condition that affects a person’s mood, thinking, and/or behaviour, which can be hereditary but is often a result of poor mental health. Let’s parallel mental illness with our example of going to the doctor. So, as stated above, taking care of our mental health is like taking care of our medical health. We see a therapist for a mental check-up like we visit a doctor when it’s time for a physical. Sometimes when we go to the doctor, we find out we have an illness, like diabetes for example. This is the condition that affects our medical health. Mental illnesses are the conditions that affect our mental health. Sometimes treatment for a mental illness may require more than just one or two visits to the office. A person may need to couple their therapy with medication, just like a diabetic would couple their diet and exercise with medication.
Now that we have an understanding of the difference between mental health and mental illness, let’s look at some of the statistical information that supports being mentally healthy and having regular mental health “check-ups”. We at Life & Wellness are dedicated to breaking down the barriers surrounding mental health and mental illness, so that more people aren’t afraid to seek help through therapy and counselling,
Did you know that 1 in 5 American adults have a mental health condition? That’s over 40 million Americans, which is more than the populations of New York and Florida combined. How about we break that down a little further: So, 2.4 million American adults are suffering from schizophrenia and about 6.1 million American adults live with bipolar disorder, while another 16 million American adults are living with major depression. None of those numbers are including the 42 million American adults that are currently living with anxiety disorders. OK, so now that we’ve got some of the statistics out and in the open, let’s examine the impact of these numbers…
Depression is the number one leading cause of disability worldwide. And out of the millions and millions of people who suffer from mental health issues, 59% of them do not receive any type of mental health service. That’s more than half of individuals suffering from mental health issues. That results in some people feeling the need to take their own lives; 90% of people who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.
If we can break the stigma that is associated with mental health, mental illness and therapy, we can lower the percentage of Americans that go untreated and feel the need to take their lives…
Venita Belton is a therapist and co-owner of Life & Wellness Counseling and Consulting in Charlotte, NC.