By Olivia Dowgiewicz
Man, being a human is hard. We get trapped in feelings and emotions, which heavily impacts our well-being. If these emotions that we feel are something we deal with on a day–to–day basis, then why is talking about mental health so hard to do?
Mental health and mental illness tend to be used interchangeably; however, they do not mean the same thing. Mental health is something everyone has; it is how we deal with daily challenges and obstacles. It is how we cope with stress, lack of sleep, relationship issues, and so much more. Mental illness is an illness that effects how we act, hold relationships, and behave in society.
Mental health disorders fall into a wide range of different conditions. One in four people in the world will be affected by mental health disorders in their lifetime. Currently, 450 million people live their lives suffering from mental health disorders, making mental disorders a leading cause in illness and disabilities. However, most mental disorders will go unknown or undiagnosed because individuals will not seek help or care (World Health Organization).
Whether it is figuring out how to balance mental health or getting help for a mental illness, taking action begins with a conversation. A conversation that should take place from both sides. As a current college student, I understand we face stress from work, friends, family, school, and everything in between. No individual leads the same life or faces the same challenges. Talking about mental health comes across as a challenge; the negative stigma surrounding mental health is driving people away from learning how to communicate respectfully. If someone is dealing with personal highs or lows, it is always helpful to find a balance.
Having a conversation is easier said than done, because talking about mental health takes courage. There are so many different reasons why starting a conversation is hard for someone. Someone struggling with mental health may define themselves as a failure; they are shameful because they believe something is wrong with them. For some, it is assumed that admitting to mental health struggles will result in being left out, judged, or become a burden on the person they confide in. They feel isolated and believe no one will understand what they are feeling: “Why am I different?” “What is wrong with me?” or “Why can’t I fix this?”
On the other hand, sometimes people who might not have mental health illnesses, or people who have a balanced mental health, do not want to participate in a conversation with someone who is struggling because they might not know enough. They will not know the questions to ask, they might not bring it up because they are afraid, or fear that they might upset the person. Honestly, they might even be ignorant to the idea of mental health or that anything from stress and anxiety to depression and bipolar disorder are actual hardships that people need to talk through.
Thursday October 10th, which is coming up in the next week, is World Mental Health Day. Recognition of this day promotes advocacy and raises awareness against the negative stigma around mental health (World Health Organization). This day reminds us that any time is a good time to start making a change by having conversation with friends and family about mental health, as we never know who we will be helping.
“Where there is neglect, there is little or no understanding. Where there is not understanding, there is neglect” – Word Heath Organization