Zeroing in on Mental Health

“Self-care is how you take your power back.” — Lalah Delia

Zeroing in on Mental Health

Mental health is a state of well-being that encompasses the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of our lives. It affects how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. It also determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through to adulthood and aging. You should probably be asking yourself why we need to know about mental health. It is because mental health is just as essential as physical health. Normalizing the conversation about mental health empowers you to talk and get the help they need.

Why mental Illness? Is it spiritual or all about biology and genes?

From evil spirits, brain abnormalities, genes to chemical imbalances in the body, numerous factors have been put forward to explain why people experience mental health challenges. Research on this subject matter is still underway as the world seeks to fully understand this phenomenon.

In almost all cases, our genes do nothing more than carry a slight risk of mental illness. What really matters is the wide range of social, economic, family and emotional factors that interact with our genes and biology.  False beliefs about mental illness can have serious consequences for affected individuals. The human psyche is a fragile thing, and just like the body, it is subject to a host of malaises. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that mental disorders are quite common, affecting one in five adults in any given year and across the population, in the UK. Approximately 1 in every 25 adults is living with a serious mental health problem such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression and these statistical figures could have doubled given the drastic impact of the Covid pandemic on lives during the past two years.

Not being able to share their feelings is one of the most serious challenges encountered by mental health patients. The creation of conducive spaces for people to openly talk about mental health can go a long way in breaking down stereotypes, improving relationships, aiding recovery and eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health illness.

What is the Relationship between Mental and Physical Health?

Mental health and physical health should not be thought of as separate. There are various ways in which poor mental health has been shown to be detrimental to physical health and vice versa. For example, people with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing heart diseases than the general population as shown by research. The second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 is suicide. Mental illness and substance use disorders result in 1 out of every 8 emergency room visits by adults.

Why Talk about Mental Health?

Allow me to quickly point out that by not talking about mental health issues, we add to the stigma that surrounds this topical issue. Mental illness is treatable, and individuals suffering from the same can and do live fulfilling, productive, and happy lives. But the longer the mental health condition go untreated, the more severe it becomes. Find below some of the many combined reasons why we should talk about mental health.

  1. To Combat Mental Health Stigma

Despite the growing focus on mental health worldwide, there is still a lot of stigma associated with mental illness. The stigma surrounding this form of illness can prevent us from recognizing when we need to reach out for help. Talking openly about mental health issues, including mental illness, can help break down these barriers. Discussions help us understand just how common mental illness is, providing us with opportunities to correct misconceptions and feel better about asking for help.

 2. To Understand You are Not Alone

It is paradoxical that as the world amplifies its voice on mental health, it suddenly appears that recorded cases of mental health illness are spiraling more than ever. This can be regarded as a sign that people are now more openly talking about their mental challenges and it should inspire us to do the same and confidently seek for assistance whenever necessary. Watch out you may be the only one left behind in this race towards the achievement of good health and well-being in line with Sustainable Development Goal Number 3. Remember being mentally sick does not mean you are weak. If we talk more about mental health, it could encourage more people to seek treatment.

  1. To Encourage Care and Support

Talking about mental health in general encourages people to seek treatment, especially once they realize that they are not alone. Millions of adults live with mental health issues in Zimbabwe considering the dire mental health professional, patient ratio, and the more we talk about it, the more likely we will begin to feel comfortable to seek care and support as a society. Just like the country’s approach to demystifying HIV and AIDS during the 1990s into the 2000s, let us tackle this scourge of mental health illness through publicity and awareness

  1. To Lower the Risk of Suicide

It is saddening to learn that someone has given up on life by committing suicide. l always feel that if someone had quickly reached out to listen to their problems maybe the outcome could have been different. It can be observed that more often than not, interventions are always delayed only to be offered as an emergency stop-gap measure. Yet openly discussing mental health at societal level can help breakdown the stigma surrounding mental illness and inform people of available care and support options. It can even encourage those having suicidal thoughts or dealing with severe mental illness to reach out to others for help.

  1. To Maintain Good Mental Health

Maintaining one’s mental well-being is an important part of staying healthy and enjoying an improved quality of life. Discussing mental health can overally encourage people to maintain their mental well-being on a regular basis. These formal or informal discussions could include tips or information on how to boost or care for one’s mental health and well-being and types of mental health challenges and how to manage them, amongst other key issues.

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