In Honor of Mental Health Day
National Mental Health Day, observed on October 10th, is an opportunity to raise awareness about how we can better take care of our brains. Even if you are not directly impacted by mental health issues, you are probably indirectly impacted through people around you. It’s a huge deal and a lot of people feel isolated due to the stigma. What most people don’t know is over 450 million people suffer from some sort of mental health issue…so let’s talk about it together.
By Kaylin Balderrama
First of all, what is mental health?
Mental health is a persons psychological and emotional well-being. Basically, it’s a persons ability to realize their own potential, handle stress in their life, work productively and ability to contribute to his/her community. Every human has mental health, but not everyone has a mental illness. A mental illness is when a person’s brain starts to negatively affect how they think, feel, behave and/or interact with others.
So what causes a mental health illness?
There are a bunch of different reasons why a person may develop a mental illness. It may be caused by a reaction to an environmental stress, genetics, biochemical imbalances, or a big combination of things. There are a lot of factors that can cause someone to potentially suffer from a mental illness such as abuse, trauma, social isolation, discrimination, stigmas, poverty, debt, stress, losing someone close to them and lots of other things. I think it’s important to include that list because suffering from a mental illness can be caused by VERY common things, which is why so many people are affected.
If you want to understand the functions of the brain and mental health from a science perspective, watch this:
Let’s talk about the stigma.
So what’s up with the stigma around mental health issues? First there’s a social stigma, which is the publics idea of mental health. Second theres a self-perceived stigma which is an internalized stigma that a person with mental health may experience. The self-perceived stigma that a person with mental health experiences directly bounces off of the social stigma there is around mental health. Basically a person feels guilty or less-than when they have a mental illness because other people see having a mental illness that way.
Here are some celebrities who have spoken out about their mental health:
Ryan Reynolds on his Anxiety while filming Deadpool:
“I never, ever slept". Or I was sleeping at a perfect right angle-just sitting straight constantly working at the same time,” he told Variety “By the time we were in post production; we’d been to Comic-Con, and people went crazy for it. The expectations were eating me alive".”
Emma Stone on her Anxiety and Panic Disorder:
“The first time I had a panic attack I was sitting in my friend’s house, and I thought the house was burning down. I called my mom and she brought me home, and for the next three years it would just not stop",” she told Wall Street Journal, “I would ask my mom to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later. I just needed to know that no one was going to die and nothing was going to change.”
Lili Reinhart on her anxiety in her interview with W Magazine:
“I had so much anxiety booking work, I spent almost five months holed up in this bedroom in this house just feeling anxious, waiting for my next audition….it was the most miserable time of my life. I had to quit a few jobs in North Carolina because of how anxious they made me. My anxiety was so bad that I had to keep quitting jobs because I physically could not work...I threw up in my Uber because, one, I was carsick, and two, I was having a panic attack. I get home, lock the door in my room, immediately Skype my mom and said, 'Mom, I’m not okay.' I felt like my world was crashing. I didn’t want to admit defeat, but I was like, ‘I need to come home. My mental health is suffering, and it is making me physically ill.'"
Amanda Seyfried on taking medication to Allure:
“I’m on Lexapro, and I’ll never get off of it. I’ve been on it since I was 19, so 11 years. I’m on the lowest dose. I don’t see the point of getting off of it. Whether it’s placebo or not, I don’t want to risk it. And what are you fighting against? Just the stigma of using a tool? A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category [from other illnesses], but I don’t think it is. It should be taken as seriously as anything else. You don’t see the mental illness: It’s not a mass; it’s not a cyst. But it’s there. Why do you need to prove it? If you can treat it, you treat it.”
Cara Delevingne on her depression to This Morning:
“I was so ashamed of how I felt because I had such a privileged upbringing. I'm very lucky. But I had depression. I had moments where I didn't want to carry on living. But then the guilt of feeling that way and not being able to tell anyone because I shouldn't feel that way just left me feeling blame and guilt."
So, what can you do if you love someone, work with someone, are friends with someone or know someone who suffers from mental health issues?
Keep including them and inviting them to things you do
Listen and ask questions about how they’re feeling; even if you totally don’t understand; just listen.
Point out their small victories and accomplishments.
Visit them at their house- for someone with a mental health illness this is their safe space.
Research their health problem; the more you understand the safer they will feel.
Check in on them; even if you just ask “How are you feeling today?”