Mental health is a major concern worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health includes “subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, inter-generational dependence, and self-actualization of one’s intellectual and emotional potential, among others.” World Mental Health Day is celebrated on 10 October, for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. And May is celebrated as Mental Health Awareness Month or “Mental Health Month” .
Ever heard of the saying “ The key to a healthy life is having a healthy mind”? That is true because a healthy mind plays a vital role in our daily life in performing normal activities, actively. Mental health is a concerned topic for every group of people, for every stage of life, from childhood to adulthood. When we talk about mental health, a common thought that comes up in our mind is a scary picture of a person who is lunatic and violent, wearing dirty torn clothes, has unkempt hair and poor personal hygiene – probably hurts and kills people or eats the flesh of the human body, talks nonsense or someone who does things that a normal human being doesn’t. A misconception, sadly!. Infact, a mentally ill person is no one but whose mind works extra than a normal human’s brain. Their mind works too fast and gives them no time to think or decide. Yes, the only thing is that it has different levels of being “crazy”.
HOW BRAIN WORKS IN MENTAL HEALTH
Mental health is the ability to handle or cope with stress and enjoy daily life. It includes the way you feel, think, act and relate to others. According to scientists, it is the brain that affects mental health by helping one avoid harmful things and escape danger, by controlling one’s response to fearful and stressful events, by helping an individual make decisions, solve problems and recall memories. Not just that, it helps you and our focus on tasks and controlling emotions, by making and storing memories. So it is basically when the brain stops or fails to function the normal way, makes one suffer from mental illness. And when there is too much pressure put on the brain for example too much stress about a relationship break up, or losing a job, or losing a loved one in a car accident, failing in exams, everything hurts the mental health and causes mental health problems.
CAUSES OF MENTAL ILLNESS
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. The causes or factors affecting mental health are vast in numbers. There can be Biological factors which include chromosomal and chemical abnormalities, genetic predisposition, medical illness, substance abuse (alcohol addiction or any kind of drug addiction) , brain damage etc. The second factor can be, stressful life experiences or negative life lessons in the past or at the present that includes violence, physical abuse or trauma, unhealthy relationships or separation, career fall, business failures. And, thirdly but not lastly, a family history with sufferings of mental health problems may also be one of the reasons behind. Sometimes, daily habits contribute to affecting mental health, for example, a monotonous lifestyle or less exposure to the outer world.
It is not easy to figure out if someone around you or yourself is suffering from mental health problems. Some may look absolutely normal outside when their mental health is not okay, and some may just show it through their actions and behavior that they need help. The early warning signs of mental health problems could be major anxiety, nervousness, forgetfulness, lack of motivation, isolating, having low or no energy, being obsessed with issues which are pointless, irrational thought process, inability to connect with others and pulling away from socializing, increased irritability and negativity, increase in substance dependency. Besides all that, one may have severe mood swings, eating too much or too little to deal with their mental health, sleeping too much or too little, waking up with anger or extreme depressive temper, thinking of harming others or self unknowingly, usually seem confused and worried. Therefore, it is a wide range of mental health conditions that make one’s mental condition miserable and at times end up affecting the physical health too. And if it is not treated at the right time, the latter stage could have serious consequences not only on the person suffering from mental health problems but also for the ones around them.
PREVENTION OR SOLUTION
Mental health problems are common because of the rat race ingrained in human nature and the competitive spirit accentuated by globalization. If help is offered or given at the right time, people dealing with mental health complications may get back to normal. Even though prevention is not always easy, but some people do realize if they are suffering and they work on it either by sharing their concerns to their near ones or by changing their lifestyle, indulging themselves in activities and hobbies of their choice, reducing substance intake, exercising, have a proper and complete sleep. This very important step one can take to treat themselves is known as “Self-help”, who are well-informed people being the best judge of what treatment suits them. The second strategy is “Psychotherapy” which is about taking therapies and getting sessions of counseling. Psychotherapy is a long-term procedure and focuses on a broader range of mental health issues, whereas psychological counseling is short-term as compared to psychotherapy. Rehabilitation and Medication, being the third solution, may not always work to cure mental health conditions but it can decline or improve symptoms.
Usually, some fail to get or give help because they are unaware of how and where to start from. Some are scared of society judging them as insane and making them feel as an alien. Social stigma and discrimination thus, make mental health problems worse and stop a person from getting the help they need. To remove this or overcoming this stigma, awareness is the only best way. Thus, sensitizing and spreading knowledge, educating individuals, talking about it and sharing stories, holding campaigns, or organizing events focussing on mental health will be of great help. Encouraging people to come out of their shell and have a non-judgmental conversation in a group or one-to-one, being sympathetic to each other and understanding, and normalizing the idea of seeking support for themselves or others, is surely going to help society to deal with mental health issues.
OTHER THAN THAT
When awareness is spread, one becomes more active and conscious to work on their mental health. Yes, because technology is playing a best friend’s role in our life, researchers have come up and reviewed these science-based happiness apps to help us. There are various phone applications to track and boost one’s happiness; when you are happy, you are mentally healthy.
Even reading inspirational and motivational books like How to Overcome Mental Tension by Swami Gokulananda, Self Help That Works can be quick solutions to combat mental health problems. Other than that, one can get themselves enrolled in regular meditation, yoga or chanting groups because spiritual steps may appear illogical or too simple for a complicated mental disorder, but they heal one in a much positive way. And if not that, one may look forward to engaging in positive self-talk therapy and practicing self-love.