Over the past several years, you may have experienced some sort of mental health difficulty, whether it was due to a small setback on your path or a serious catastrophe. Prioritizing yourself while pursuing your academic and professional objectives might be challenging when you’re dealing with an apparently never-ending stream of negative news on top of everyday obstacles. Putting your mental health first is arguably the best thing you can do to raise your standard of living in general.
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One in five persons today suffers from a moderate to severe mental health illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that more than half of all Americans will receive a mental health diagnosis at some point in their lives. However, what is mental health precisely, and why is it so crucial?
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as an individual’s “emotional, psychological, and social well-being.”
“A person can accomplish daily tasks, maintain relationships, and engage in meaningful recreation when they are in a state of good mental health,” according to Dr. Darleen Dempster, a clinical faculty member in the clinical mental health counseling program at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). “This involves having a sense of equilibrium and being empowered to establish boundaries and gradually tackle life and work goals.”
Not only can mental health effect your daily life, but it may also have a significant impact on your relationships, profession, education, and long-term objectives. Dealing with mental health issues as they emerge may transform, if not save, your life as rates of mental disease rise globally.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been a significant increase in the number of cases of mental illness in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made mental health issues worse everywhere. In order to maintain mental health and meet your academic and personal objectives, it is more crucial than ever for students to take care of their mental health concerns.
Students’ mental health was a major problem even before the epidemic. Among other symptoms and challenges, the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) of 2019 found that a large number of students reported feeling overwhelmed, lonely, and tired (NCHA PDF Source). In the year before to the poll, 20.2% of the students said they had experienced depression, and 27.8% said they had experienced anxiety that interfered with their academic performance.
According to Dempster, “college can be a stressful time as you manage academic demands on top of other life demands.” But just as many children may learn how to succeed academically, so too can they learn how to control and enhance mental health outcomes, including stress management.
What is the relationship between physical and mental health?
According to the NIMH, there are mental diseases like anxiety and depression that can result in physiological symptoms that go undiagnosed. In addition, the CDC notes that mental illness raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Severe mental illness also raises the possibility that a person may become gravely sick after catching COVID-19. However, persistent problems with one’s physical health can also have an impact on one’s mental health.
“A healthy diet, enough sleep, and exercise may all have a favorable effect on our mental health. On the other hand, Dempster said, “poor nutrition, inactivity, and lack of sleep can make it difficult for us to handle stress and the demands of life.” Sometimes stress, anxious thoughts, or other behaviors might result in physical symptoms associated with mental health issues. As a result, the relationship between mental and physical symptoms is cyclical.
What Kinds of Mental Health Issues Are There?
Depending on the condition or disease, mental health issues can have a variety of effects on your life. Here are some instances of various mental health issues along with the difficulties and signs that go along with them.
Depression and Anxiety
According to the NIMH, about one in three persons will suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorders are a major mental health problem throughout the world. Anxiety can manifest as a variety of symptoms, from tension or anxiousness to physical disease and panic episodes. Specific phobias, social anxiety, separation anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and other anxiety-based disorders can all be categorized as anxiety.
According to NIMH, depression is another prevalent illness that can have a serious negative influence on a person’s life. Constant melancholy, emptiness, impatience, decreased motivation, guilt, or poor self-worth are common symptoms. Aches, pains, digestive problems, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and difficulty concentrating are among symptoms that people with depression may experience.
Suicidal thoughts and deeds are some of the most dangerous signs of depression. According to the NIMH, suicide ranks as the third most common cause of death among Americans aged 15 to 24 and as the second most common cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 14. Overall, suicide is the 12th greatest cause of death in the United States. Suicide rates increased by 30% between 2000 and 2020, according to the CDC.
Addiction and Trauma
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may result from the psychological effects of a traumatic event or experience. Panic attacks, unwelcome memories, nightmares, and flashbacks are all signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While war veterans are frequently linked to the disease, PTSD can result from a wide range of traumatic situations, including abuse, assault, major accidents, and loss.
Another mental health issue that has grown recently is addiction; the CDC reports that drug overdose deaths have climbed dramatically during the 1990s. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol is the most misused drug and is responsible for 5.3% of fatalities globally. Many people find that they may only fully recover from the complicated illness of addiction with medical assistance.
Which Resources and Treatments Are Available for Mental Health?
For various mental health conditions, there are several therapy choices. According to Dempster, there are instances in which improving self-care, reaching out to one’s support network, carefully problem-solving, and communicating may all help manage mental health issues. “But, there are other instances in which evidence-based approaches to professional mental health care, such as counseling, medication, or another type of treatment provided by a professional, can help to address mental health problems much more quickly.”