Mental illness awareness needs to catch on

“At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country. Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distinction.” – Michelle Obama. 

There are many problems in today’s world. There’s global warming, crime, Covid-19, you name it. There’s so many issues that deserve more attention–one of those being mental illness. In the United States, about 46.4% of adults have suffered from mental illnesses during their life times. Yet, when people talk about world issues, mental illness rarely comes to mind. This is because most people view this illness as less important or genuinely don’t know how to address it. However, mental illness is very important and more people should be educated on mental illness so they know how to help someone with mental illnesses.

The first step to helping someone with mental illness is knowing about mental illnesses and where they come from. There are many types of mental illnesses like mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, trauma related disorders, impulse control disorders, personality disorders, and addiction and substance abuse disorders. The most common disorders found in Americans are anxiety disorders, depression, and bipolar disorder. 

Most mental illnesses don’t have a single cause. Instead they have a variety of causes, called risk factors. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop a mental illness. Sometimes the mental illness develops gradually. Other times, it doesn’t appear until a stressful event triggers it. There are many risk factors and triggers, but here are a few examples: Genetics– illnesses can run in families. Also, environment which includes living in a stressful environment like poverty or abuse. Childhood trauma can be a factor as well because things that happened as a child can have an impact later in life. Also, stressful events like losing someone or getting in an accident can negatively effect mental health. Negative thoughts, such as constantly putting yourself down, unhealthy habits (such as not getting enough sleep or not eating), and drugs and alcohol can also trigger mental illness and makes it harder to recover). Lastly, an imbalance of natural chemicals in your brain and body can cause mental illness.

By now, most people are comparing the risk factors to themselves or someone they know and are wondering: Can it be cured? Unfortunately, mental illnesses can not be cured, however they can be treated. Treatments for mental illness include lifestyle changes, support groups, medications, and therapy. Everyone is different, so people need to find a combination that works best for them. Even if you don’t think you can have a mental illness it’s still important to learn about them because it’s very likely that you’ll run into someone who has one and may need a little support. Most people find that the best way to support them is to listen and encourage them to seek professional help. No matter how supportive you are and how many articles you read it’s important to realize that you can’t do everything. People with mental illness deserve help and deserve attention to be brought to their issues.