A sizeable percentage of adults, teenagers, and children are affected by a mental illness or a mental health problem. In addition, many people in your family, school, workplace, church, neighborhood, etc., may be suffering from one form of mental health disorder or the other without your knowledge.
Sadly, many of these people do not receive treatment for these issues due to the fear of being stigmatized. Of course, no one wants to live with the stigma of being a mental health patient. However, when left untreated, mental health problems can lead to poor academic or work performance, higher medical expenses, increased risk of suicide, fewer employment opportunities, etc.
Like physical health, everybody has their mental health, and it needs to be looked after carefully. Having good mental health allows you to feel, think, and react in ways you want and need to live life appropriately. On the other hand, you could have periods of poor mental health, and you will find that you are frequently feeling, thinking, and reacting in ways that are almost impossible for you to cope with. It is as bad as having a physical illness, maybe even worse.
Mental health problems are becoming more common around us, ranging from the common ones such as anxiety, and depression, to the rare ones such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Mental Health Awareness
There has been a significant increase in the discussions surrounding mental health in recent years. This is primarily because of campaigns relating to mental health charities and many other high-profile individuals, such as Prince Harry, speaking candidly and publicly about their struggles with mental health problems.
An increase in mental health awareness is welcomed because it removes the stigma surrounding mental health and encourages those suffering from these issues in silence to speak up and seek help.
However, as good as the awareness movement has been, it has its pitfalls as well. Sometimes, celebrities use it to advance their agendas, such as grabbing media attention or increasing their fanbase.
This happened with Logan Paul, a YouTube celebrity, causing outrage after uploading a video of someone who committed suicide in the Aokigahara forest in Japan. The forest is a site well known for several suicides. The video got more than 9 million views before he took it down later with an apology stating that he did it to raise awareness about suicide and its prevention.
However, many people did not buy the unconvincing excuse as they believe he did it for media attention.
The movement has also suffered similar fates in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians, who hijack it for their gain. These politicians publicly claim to be committed to raising mental health awareness – and this draws plaudits from the masses and the media for their bravery and sensitivity – but they are doing nothing to improve mental health services in reality.
For instance, it was revealed in 2017 that half of the Clinical Commissioning Groups – the NHS bodies with the responsibility of commissioning healthcare services within a local area – did not plan to spend a lot on mental health services even though there was an increasing demand for the mental health services. However, politicians publicly claim to be committed to improving mental health services only to make policies that hinder their public claim.
Do both, not either
One of the biggest problems with mental health awareness is that people tend to pay so much attention to raising awareness but care less about doing anything about it. It should not stop at creating awareness; plans must be made, and steps must be taken.
Of course, the stigma that comes with mental health is very real, and it affects people living with mental health problems as much as the problem itself. It also affects their close friends, relatives, and associates. This is one of the primary reasons why people do not come out.
Research shows that the fear of stigma and labeling is a significant factor affecting the willingness of people with mental health to disclose the illness and seek treatment. So the fact that there are discussions around mental health illness and treatment options, and people are being educated about it through several awareness programs is laudable on its own. However, it should not stop there – and this has always been the case.
The debate and discussions around mental health awareness must not overshadow the many problems facing mental health services. It is okay to encourage people to seek help for mental health problems, and it is not a bad thing to struggle with a mental health problem. However, if the healthcare system is not equipped to function as it should, then these awareness campaigns are a waste of time because, in the end, nothing tangible happens. People are encouraged to speak up and get help, but when they seek help, they can’t get it adequately. So, what is the point in all of it? They could even regret speaking up and struggle more.
It is as essential as it is to have public education and raise awareness about mental health problems and get help. It is equally important that there are corresponding improvements in mental health services. Enough of the lip service. It is time to take action and do what is right. Celebrating mental health awareness month or suicide prevention day and trending hashtags will not help people struggling with their mental health.
Politicians need to be held accountable to do what they say. They talk about the importance of getting mental health treatment and raising awareness about mental health issues but cut down on the NHS mental health service. We are never going to make any progress this way.
Mental health awareness is essential, and people must be encouraged to seek help. However, it is also crucial that mental health services are readily available and empowered to do their job. Trending hashtags and educating people won’t cure their illnesses; providing them with the right services will.
Sherri Carrier is a professional writer at RushEssay, a college essay writer at an essay writing website, and a member of several writing clubs in New York. She has been writing her poems since she was a child. The young author gets inspiration from her favorite writers and people whom she loves.