Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Think Mental Health First, Physical Fitness Second.

August 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Health, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( People don’t like to say anything about their mental health. They don’t want to talk about mental illness. For some people, it’s not a big deal, and for many, it doesn’t even exist. People think that negative thinking is the root cause of mental illness, and if you think the same, change that mindset.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness says the reason behind a majority of deaths by suicide is mental illness. In every age group, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research revealed that every day, 113 Americans die by suicide.

Untreated mental illness is significantly decreasing adult lifespans in the United States. On average, those living with mental illness die 25 years earlier. Mental illness causes chronic medical conditions and lack of treatment leads to disability or death.

Unless you ignore science and research, you can clearly see the effects of mental illness on health and quality of life. In America, nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness don’t receive mental healthcare services. “Wait a minute,” you may be thinking. “Don’t we have the resources to support these people?” Yes, we have, but that’s not enough. Mental health issues are more complex than one can imagine.

When it comes to physical fitness, you can see it from your eyes. You can see if you’ve lost or gained weight. You can check and track your heart rate, measure glucose levels, calorie intake, and measure the body’s growth in many ways. But, you can’t do the same with your mental health. It is complex, and others don’t easily understand mental illness as they often think of it as mood swings. If you’re depressed, people will tell you to feel better by going out in nature, watching movies, talking to family or friends, etc. Some people won’t even do that much.

Mental illness is regarded as emotional weakness due to poor life choices, irrational and inaccurate thoughts. Not surprisingly, our society’s commitment to addressing mental health problems is limited. Too often, people suffering from mental illness are left out of mental health care. Those who are in greatest need of health care, we don’t see their faces on glossy posters that talk about breaking the stigma. Their voices are seldom heard.

NHS recently announced long-term plans for mental health care, but many health experts are not impressed. The harsh reality is, our system is suffering because of two major problems. The first is, emergency departments in our healthcare centers are ill-equipped to support patients. But there’s one more issue. Insurance companies often don’t consider mental illness as part of their plans and they exclude addiction completely from their insurance model.

Signs of mental illness

Are you, or is someone you know, is suffering from mental illness? Here are some common signs:

  • You’re constantly worried about a certain situation or circumstances you fear the most
  • You possess a “nobody loves me” philosophy
  • You think you’re always confused, can’t learn anything or concentrate
  • Even when things go right, your extreme mood changes cause difficulty in perceiving reality
  • Abuse of substances like drugs or alcohol
  • You purposely try to hurt yourself
  • You believe that the world is mostly a bad place, so you start avoiding friends and social activities
  • You have a habit of constantly being careless about your daily activities

As we can see, mental illness is destructive both at mental and physical levels.

How to overcome mental illness

You’ve probably heard the famous line from Eleanor Roosevelt “Do one thing every day that scares you.” We love the idea of facing fears, but this is not a realistic approach to dealing with mental illness. People who are in need of support are often forced to face their worst fears which makes their conditions worse.

About 8% of children of age 13 to 18 years have an anxiety disorder. Most likely, everyone reading this had a childhood friend who suffered from anxiety disorders. Such kids are often forced to participate in activities that fuel their conditions. Reports suggest that half of all mental illness in people begins before they turn 14. Sadly, even after effective treatment, people don’t get help as there are long delays between the time people start seeing symptoms and when they get treatment.

If you suspect that you might be suffering from some kind of mental illness, here are some tips that can help you.

According to NAMI, the best coping mechanism is radical acceptance. Simply put, radical acceptance means accepting life just as it is with your mind, heart, and from the depths of your soul. One more easy way to cope with mental illness is breathing exercise which is effective but needs patience. Acting just the opposite of your emotions is also a great method that has helped many people who suffer from mental illness. This technique is called “Opposite-To-Emotion Thinking.”

Staff Writer; Jason Smith

Questions? Feel free to email me at;

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