Mental Health—no longer a taboo subject
For many years mental health was considered a taboo subject. Even though, in 1949 the month of May was designated Mental Health Month by Mental Health America. Also, October 10th, 1992, was chosen as World Mental Health Day to bring awareness to mental health issues around the world. Indeed, mental health awareness is at the forefront now more than before.
In fact, we have been witnessing the result of untreated mental illness in the headlines. And sadly, it has been the cause of horrific loss of life through shootings in schools, churches, workplaces, malls, theaters, and nightclubs.
Who does mental illness affect?
Believe it or not, most people have had moments of not feeling mentally healthy. For example, that moment when you felt like you were about to lose your mind. Yep, that moment right there–the moment or moments that just popped into your mind. Now when we break down some of the different mental health problems, we will better understand why mental health awareness is so important.
According to mentalhealth.gov, there are several different types of mental health issues that can affect a person’s thinking. And therefore, affecting one’s mood, and behavior. Such as the following disorders:
- Anxiety – a fear or dread response to situations or objects. This can include phobias, panic, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
- Behavioral – a pattern of disruptive behaviors that last for at least six months in young people. It causes problems at home, in school, and in other social situations. Behaviors such as Oppositional-Defiant Disorder (ODD), Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), and Conduct Disorder.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – repeating upsetting thoughts [obsessing] and doing the same actions repeatedly [compulsions] to appease those thoughts.
- Personality – distressing personality traits that cause problems for the person. It can happen in school, at work, and or in social relationships. This can include borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
- Eating – extreme emotions and behaviors concerning one’s weight and eating habits. The behaviors can include binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia.
- Mood – persistent feelings of extreme sadness, extreme happiness, or shifting between the two. This can include depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), self-harm, and bipolar disorder.
- Trauma and Stress-Related – can occur after experiencing or seeing a traumatic event. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) makes a person stressed out and, in many cases, afraid long after the danger has passed.
- Psychotic Disorders – this can include delusions and hallucinations. An example is someone with schizophrenia.
When looking at the above disorders, mental health problems are more common than people realize. Actually, one in five American adults has experienced a mental health issue (Mental Health Myths and Facts).
Our thoughts are directly linked to how we view life
On the Mental Health: Cyber Bullying, Depression, and Suicide episode, Lady V and I discussed how our thoughts are directly linked to how we view life. We also discussed the connection between cyberbullying, depression, and suicide with our special guest and resident millennial Alexis. She shared how she has witnessed people cyberbullying others on social media because of their opinions or artistic expression.
This week our special guest and resident counselor Melinda Fields, who has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Human Services and Counseling, shares some clinical insights on mental health awareness.
Warning signs of mental health issues
First, Ms. Melinda explained the difference between someone who gets sad and someone who is suffering from major depression [clinical depression]. She says everyone gets sad from time to time. So, if you’re just sad for just a few days, that’s fine. But if you’ve been sad for two weeks or more it goes into depression–then that’s a caution to either talk to your family, a friend or your doctor.
Ms. Melinda also suggests that when you first look at a friend and you can tell something is wrong, ask him or her ‘Are you okay?’ Next, all you have to do is be empathetic towards them. Don’t judge, just listen and allow them to express what they’re feeling. Then you can ask your friend or family member, ‘Do you need any help?’ and ‘Have you talked to your doctor?’
She says that the person may not admit that there is an issue. The person may even pretend to be happy. But if you look closely, you may be able to see past the smile. Ms. Melinda says one should observe the behaviors of the person. For instance, if he/she has unusual mood swings or is acting out of character. Or if one who was once very social becomes antisocial and stops hobbies. Yet some other signs such as poor concentration and memory loss may give the person away.
In the same manner, if the person seems to have a loss of energy or they sleep excessively—those could be signs of major depression. As you can see, observation is a must in order to recognize the signs of mental illness in those around us.
Negative words and thoughts are harmful to the body
If you think about it—most people place more focus on their physical health than their mental health. As Lady V and I shared in episode 6, negative words, thoughts, and even our surroundings can and will have an adverse effect on the body. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, the Word of God says to take captive every thought.
In other words, we can’t allow negative thoughts to dominate our thinking and therefore, controlling how we see ourselves. Again, our thoughts and what we say to ourselves do affect us physically—for good or bad.
A few years ago, a teacher demonstrated to her students the affects words can have by performing the rice jar experiment. She took two jars of rice; to one jar the kids were to say negative things. To the other jar the kids were to say only positive things. The jar the kids spoke negatively to, turned black and moldy. The kids had a visual representation of the effects of negative words and emotions.
The rice jar experiment mirrors an experiment done by Dr. Masaru Emoto with the crystals in frozen natural water and distilled water. Below are videos of Dr. Masaru Emoto’s water crystal experiment and rice experiment.
The Water Crystal Experiment
The Rice Experiment
Our emotions are affected by our surroundings
This week Lady V shares how the negative atmosphere at a previous job made her feel. She says that many of her colleagues treated employees poorly. And that made the work conditions extremely difficult. In my opinion, when a person does his or her best when performing a job and the supervisors are difficult to satisfy, it is nothing less than adult bullying.
I agree with Lady V; no supervisor or employer has the right to belittle or humiliate an employee. Instead, they should respect those persons working for them. Sadly, when a person suffering from untreated or misdiagnosed mental illness is bullied and humiliated—the result could end in a murder.
The Word of God even speaks to how we should treat others in Luke 6:31 (TPT) “However you wish to be treated by others is how you should treat everyone else,” and Proverbs 18:21 (TPT) “Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life…”
It really does matters how we treat people. Because negative actions and negative words towards others could provoke him or her to kill innocent people.
Why Mental Health Awareness is important
Mental health awareness is important for many reasons. More specifically, when one is able to recognize the signs of mental illness in others—it is then possible to get those people much needed help. That, in turn, could stop senseless killings. You see, when a person is mentally healthy, he/she most likely wouldn’t think of doing the unthinkable.
Let’s face it, if someone decides to walk into a place [church, school, mall, and etc.] and just start killing people, he/she is not well. No doubt, there is some mental illness there, whether the person had a one-time mental break or has suffered long-term mental issues. In fact, no one with a sound and healthy mind would purposely take another person’s life.
Tips to help when suffering from depression
If you are suffering from depression, Ms. Melinda suggests that you first, talk to a counselor or therapist. If that is not feasible, talk to a friend or family member. Next, start a journal because it helps to unload your emotions. Also, she recommends making a vision board.
She says a vision board can provide you with a hopeful picture of what your future could possibly look like. Ms. Melinda says that when you are feeling overwhelmed with sadness, your vision board will be that reminder to look ahead to the future and not in the past.
Hopelessness can lead to suicide or murder-suicide
Unfortunately, a person who feels hopeless doesn’t have a reason to move forward. Hense, suicide seems to be the only option. And for some people, they resort to murder-suicide. They feel their life is meaningless and therefore have no regard for the lives of others.
If you are someone who is feeling hopeless. And you may even be thinking your life doesn’t matter. Well, that’s simply not true because you matter to God. So, when you are feeling hopeless, please know–there is always hope. Moreover, God loves you; let Him show you. Give Jesus a try; you have nothing to lose. But, you will gain love, hope, peace, and joy.
This week start being aware of your family and friends. Pay attention to those who are around you. You never know, you might be the one who notices that someone is suffering in silence. And as a result of you taking the time to educate yourself on mental illness and mental health awareness that person could quite possibly get the help he needs. Some people want to know that someone cares and that they are not alone. If you choose to do the challenge, let us know.@wershetalks
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Music by Joakim Karud
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