Previously I have been blogging mainly about self-development and motivation. If you have had the privilege of reading my previous posts, you have noticed that most of them centre around the mind. How you think affects how you feel and how you feel ultimately affects how you act or react to any given situation. If most of the things we do in life are centred on our minds then, it is only proper for us to focus on how we can keep that mind as healthy as possible.
My background regarding mental health
I grew up in a society and culture in which it is taboo to talk about mental health. True feelings are suppressed because either; one will not be considered man and strong enough or, woman and wife material enough to be able to keep the happenings of her household to herself.
My African-black culture taught us that emotions are supposed to be bottled up inside. They are a white privilege that only spoilt/attention-seeking black people would dare express. In the worst-case scenario, mental illness is considered a taboo topic associated with evil spirits. Therefore discussing emotions has been and is still in some communities, considered a disappointment and embarrassment.
Suppressing emotions is considered a strength and expressing them is a weakness. I am telling you this so that you can have a picture of how hard it has been for me to break out of that societal norm and decide to speak up. In some instances, I have been labelled the crazy girl because I have refused to blindly accept cultural norms that are detrimental to human development but I do not regret doing it at all.
Why it’s important to talk about mental health
The human psyche is just as prone to illness as much as the human body. Millions of people are affected by mental illness every year and every day. Approximately 1 in every 5 adults is affected by mental illnesses. It is, therefore, important to address this issue.
In one statement, I think, for as long as we understand the importance of mental health as much as we do any other medical condition and chronic illness, we should never question if we are over-stressing about mental health at any given point in time.
Why hasn’t mental illness been given priority previously?
In a world which sympathizes more with broken bones than a broken heart, I am not surprised why. People feel uncomfortable talking about their emotions and even more uneasy when around those who manage to talk about them. Why does it have to be so easy to talk about having a headache, a broken limp or a sore tooth but yet so difficult to open up about our feelings, emotions and thoughts? Mental illness is associated with a lot of negative stigmas.
With the increasing prevalence of mental health problems such as suicide, anxiety and depression, it is imperative that we talk about these issues. Mental health should be moved to the forefront of the health perspective. At any given moment, we should be transparent about how we are truly copying mentally. No matter how many words I may seem to use, I feel they are still not enough to stress the importance of communicating our feelings, emotions and thoughts. The importance of mental health cannot be over-stressed.
The same sensitivity that we have when there is a part of our body that is sore is the same sensitivity we should have when our minds and emotions are not well. The same effort we put in trying to search for a medical doctor or medical practitioner is the same effort we should put in looking for the mental health professional.
Benefits of openly talking about mental health
1. It reduces stigma
The more we normalize talking about mental health, the more we reduce the stigma associated with it. Myths about mental health should be done away with and people should never be afraid to look for help when they need it. Many people avoid talking about their mental health problems for fear of being discriminated against or treated differently whether in workplaces or other social environments.
2. It creates awareness
Sometimes people are so self-involved to the extent that they fail to realise that there is a whole lot world that exists outside their own. Talking about mental health helps to educate others and thereby creates awareness of the issues that others may be dealing with. It also helps those going through it to know that they are not alone. Sometimes you are so under the weather that you may think that you are alone. Discussions about mental health encourage awareness and make it more easy and more comfortable for people to talk about this topic.
3. Mental health disorders are increasing
We are living in one of the toughest moments that probably our generation has ever had to go through. Nobody is immune to the effects that this poses on our mental well-being.
4. Diagnosis starts followed by treatment
There is no treatment that comes before diagnosis. As long as there continues to be a stigma around mental health, those affected will continue suffering in silence instead of getting the help and treatment that they need.
5. It encourages care and support
What if we knew that many suicide cases would be avoided if people were able to talk more openly about their mental state of affairs? Would talking about mental health still not be a worthy cause? Most of the time people look at another person and think that everything is okay whilst deep within the person is going through the most. Talking about mental health may help people to be more caring and supportive to those who are suffering from mental illnesses.
6. For overall healthy
We cannot talk about a fully healthy person without considering their psyche. Mental illness is just as common as any other physical illness and there is a treatment to help with recovery. Failure to seek help can only worsen a person’s condition. Healthy people lead to healthy families and healthy families lead to healthy communities and healthy nations. The chain is just as stronger as its weakest link.
It’s not the end of the road!
If you are going through any mental illness, I would like to assure you that it’s not the end of the road. Yes, you may have reached a hump or a curve but as long as you make the proper adjustments, you will live to see tomorrow. You can heal from what you are going through and/or you can learn how to properly manage the mental illness and live a normal life.
Bottling up emotions will harm you. Make it a habit to have routine mental health checks with your counsellor, just the same way you would have routine checks with your GP.
If you need to speak to a professional counsellor, get in touch with Psyche and Beyond. It’s affordable and it works!
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