See the person in front of you. They smile, laugh and engage with those around them. You think to yourself, ‘They really have their life together and will definitely go far.’
What you may not know is that when at home or alone, they are struggling to go through everyday routines. They could have be sleeping too much or too little, feel numb to things around them or have a sense of hopelessness, having thoughts or memories that they are unable to shake, or may even be thinking of harming themselves. It is very easy for people to smile and put on a mask that hides what they are really going through or struggling with. Just because they don’t show the outward signs, that does not mean there is not a daily struggle.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and our social well-being, in other words, how we think, feel, and act. It is also a factor in how we handle stress, manage relationships, and make decisions. Having a positive mental health is important through every life stage, from childhood and through adulthood.
While there are biological factors that contribute to mental health, such as genes or family history, that does not exclude life experiences like trauma or abuse.
Whenever someone hears the words ‘mental illness’ or ‘mental health’, right away a negative view is formed, even if subconciously. Even though people may accept the medical or the genetic explaination of the condition and treatments available, there is still that negatitve feeling attached to those words.
There is still a lack of understanding on what really is mental health or how this negative stigma can affect the person who struggles with the mental illness and their families as well. The persona who suffers from the illness can feel shame for having issues and this can lead to isolation. As unfortunate as it is, they face or have experienced harassment, bullying, violence, and discrimination when looking for employment or housing. The stigma can also prevent them from seeking help due to the shame/humiliation they feel, which only makes it worse.
You are not alone. That is very important to remember. 1 in 4 Americans have a mental illness of some kind. Stay connected with others and get support. You do matter and there is hope.