Many health problems or other social issues which can potentially encumber or burden an individual or group of people are visibly evident. That is to say that we can see that there is a need or medical issue and we can respond appropriately. Unfortunately mental health issues are not always evident and it is for this reason that it is very important to raise public awareness of these problems.
May 8th to May 13th is Mental Health Awareness Week in the United Kingdom with several events and programs aimed at achieving this goal.
“We all have mental health. Good mental health is an asset that helps us to thrive. This is not just the absence of a mental health problem, but having the ability to think, feel and act in a way that allows us to enjoy life and deal with the challenges it presents.” Mental Health Foundation UK
Commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation, NatCen conducted research of over 2,290 interviewees to determine their mental health background.
- Nearly two-thirds of people(65%) have experienced a mental health problem
- Only a small minority (13%) were found to be living in a state of high levels of positive health
- More than 4 in 10 say they have experienced depression
- People over the age of 55 reported experiencing better (than the average) mental health
- There is an increased risk of mental health issues in times of job uncertainty (unemployment)
Mental Health issues can take a variety of forms and very often their diagnosis is not binary – having a problem or not. More often than not these issues exist on a ‘spectrum’ of intensity from the mild to debilitating. Depression, for example can range from a persistent sadness that people think they can endure to extreme hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.
Some of the many disorders include:
- Anxiety and depression
- OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
- ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder
These are just a small sample of the types of disorders that afflict people of all ages all over the world. What’s more, these disorders can often co-exist simultaneously with other issues meaning that a sufferer can have PTSD and addiction as well as certain phobias all at the same time.
It is very important that if you believe that you may have a mental health disorder that you seek out the help of a professional. Contact your local health care provider and talk about your symptoms. One shouldn’t rely on the internet or self-diagnosis and treatment. Mental disorders are often quite complex and can range in their degree of severity. Taking the initiative and having the courage to seek out help is the first step to getting better.
Please use Mental Health Awareness Week to familiarize yourself with the kinds of disorders people face. It is a great way of encouraging a ‘culture of empathy’ and understanding. Also reflect on ways that you can maintain a healthier mental state. Do you drink responsibly? Do you get enough exercise but also enough rest? Are you managing stress on the job? Do you get enough quality time with family and friends?