The Uncheckup: Undermining the impact of mental health
Take a moment to consider the individuals in
your life. Perhaps the faces of the coworkers who collaborate with you from day to day, the friends you reach out to every week, or the loved ones who hold a special place in your heart have flashed by in your mind. At any given time, one in five of these individuals is suffering with a mental health concern [i]. This person may be your friend, partner, colleague, neighbor, or maybe this person is you. Half of American mental health issues surface prior to the age of fourteen [ii]. Throughout our lifetime, we are faced with biological, situational, social, occupational, emotional, and familial changes that are bound to influence our wellness. However, all too often we simplify our understanding of health to the consider only physical health.
We may vary in our healthcare practices. Some of us tend to make an appointment annually, whereas others inquire when an issue arises. Some of us may take matters into our own hands and only seek assistance when our pain becomes unbearable. Nevertheless, for our mental health too many of us resort to the uncheckup. We ignore our signs and symptoms, refuse to tend to our issues, and generally avoid seeking help altogether. Oftentimes we do not recognize our mental health concerns until they have grown, festered, and become unmanageable. Even when we consider that a problem may be at hand, independence, unawareness, cost, and personal beliefs often inhibit our initiative to seek assistance. If we do seek assistance, we typically do so when the cause has gone unchecked for days, months, or years. Unattended concerns can lead to unemployment, divorce, crime, and violence. In the United States, suicide is the third leading cause of deaths for individuals between the ages of 10 and 24, and of these losses, 90% can be attributed to mental illness [iii].
The World Health Organization (WHO) highlights that health is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but can be better understood as a state of well-being.[iv] Our mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social components. When considering wellness, mental health is as important as physical health. Mental wellness influences our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Our mental fitness determines about ability to manage stress, make decisions, and engage with others. Just as our bodies have the ability to grow or deteriorate over time, our mental health ebbs and flows through the course of lives as well. Mental and physical health interrelate to form our overall wellness. Physical limitations may spark emotional, social, or psychological concerns whereas mental health issues may prompt or worsen physical illnesses. Recognizing the impact of our mental wellness allows us to realize our full potential, cope with life’s stressors, work productively, and lead happier, healthier lives.
Mental health concerns can be an everyday issue. The severity may range, however, early recognition and pursuit of help are key to wellness. We have a responsibility to protect ourselves as well as our family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors by recognizing the essentiality of balanced mental health in our overall wellbeing. Our biggest hope lies in our ability to take control of our mental wellness. We have the power to be active in managing our mental health, assisting our loved ones in seeking aid, and reducing discouraging national statistics by improving the levels of wellness in our community.
Common symptoms of mental health concerns:
Persistent or obstructive thoughts
Difficulty in telling what is real
Feeling helpless or hopeless
Thoughts about harming oneself or others
Increase of substance use
Increase in worry, fear, anger, forgetfulness, or confusion
Loss of enjoyment in usual activities
Reduced energy, contentment, or happiness
Changes in eating, sleeping, habits
Extreme changes in mood
If you or someone you know may be experiencing mental health concerns, you can seek help of a local counselor. In the Central Florida area you can visit www.integratedcounselingsolutions.com for assistance.
National suicide prevention lifeline: Call 800-273-TALK (8255)
National domestic violence hotline: Call 800-799-SAFE (7233)
National sexual assault hotline: Call 800-656-HOPE (4673)