Mental Health: Know The Signs

Megan Davis, Writer

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Mental health, also called a silent illness, is often overlooked and untreated because of its lack of physical symptoms. Common symptoms, such as fatigue and a lack of motivation, are often dismissed as an off day. Despite a large portion of the population reporting mental health issues, it is still taboo to discuss, making it difficult for people with these illnesses to know that they have them and making it uncomfortable for them to seek treatment.

Though the issue is widespread, mental health is rarely discussed in a productive way. According to the World Health Organization, one fourth of the population struggles with mental health issues, and it is not an unusual disease by any means (WHO). Though the issue is so widespread, a yearly mental health check up isn’t nearly as encouraged as a yearly physical. Despite its widespread nature, it is still taboo to discuss. Because of this stigma, many people leave their illness untreated, resulting in it getting worse. Over half of suicides are committed by people who did know they had a mental illness. More than 40% of countries have no mental health policies, and 33% of countries use less than 1% of their health budget to spend on mental health (WHO). Because there is such a small budget for the life saving treatments for mental illness, it can be nearly impossible for a person to get better, ultimately worsening their condition. If mental illness were as easily discussed as physical illness, these people would have been able to get access to potentially life saving medications and treatments.

Mental health issues are on the rise in teenagers. Between news outlets forcing outrageous headlines and images that define a successful and happy person, social media has become an environment that can greatly damage a person’s mental health. Bailey Parnell reports in her TEDx Talk that just “…two hours a day on social media…” can cause dangerous mental health issues, such as “…depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.” As more stories are posted online, competition between news sources has grown, meaning that headlines are no longer about the full story. Articles are published as soon as the news source has enough information to create a story. By putting a shocking or controversial headline, companies are able to get people to read them out of outrage. Social media is full of half-finished news articles that imply that the world is ending, but there is rarely any follow up, leaving unanswered questions about those affected by the stories. Constant bombardment of negative news and comments greatly damages a person’s health.

    Mental health has been brought to light as many celebrities, such as Lady Gaga, open up about their struggles and encourage their fans to get help. By sharing her struggles at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s award ceremony, Lady Gaga highlighted the seriousness of her silent illness. Sharing their struggles is a way for celebrities to get involved in a productive way. Students have expressed their gratitude toward celebrities for sharing their experiences, claiming that it is nice to see there is not a certain lifestyle that causes these illnesses and that there are treatments for them that can let a person live a normal life.

Educating yourself on mental illness is very important in order to spot the warning signs and help the person. Some warning signs that are usually found in adults are excessive worrying or fear, avoiding friends and social activities, and abusing substances like alcohol or drugs. Mental illness can also affect children, and some warning signs that are usually found in children are changes in school performance, frequent nightmares, and frequent disobedience.  If you notice any of these signs in a friend or yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reaching out to a doctor is not hard. 

Although mental illness affects people from all over the world in all different situations, many people are still unable to get treatment. Without treatment, mental illness worsens, just the same as a physical illness. Celebrities work to erase the stigma of mental illness, raising awareness of the issue and allowing people to recognize their own symptoms.  

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