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World Mental Health Day

IN THE October 6 ISSUE

FROM THE 2018 Articles,
andMental Health
SECTIONS

by Rebecca Potts

Every year, World Mental Health Day is held on October 10 to encourage conversations around mental health and to help educate the public about what it means to live with a mental health condition. The annual observation started in 1992 with the creation of the World Federation for Mental Health, which spans over 150 countries. Each year focuses on a specific issue within the mental health community, ranging from “Dignity in Mental Health” to this year’s topic, “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.” 1 in 4 adults globally have experienced a mental illness, which means that if you are not living with a mental health condition, it’s very likely that you know someone who is. Mental illness affects everyone, whether it’s directly or indirectly. So, what can you do for World Mental Health Day? There are some simple, but effective ways to make a difference.world mental health day

There has always been a stigma associated with having a mental health condition, and it’s arguably the most significant barrier to getting help. Most of us who have a mental health condition (including me) know that there is a lot of risk in sharing our diagnosis. It can mean losing friends, losing a job, becoming isolated, or all of the above. Imagine walking through life feeling every eye you pass on you: judging you, fearing you, and preventing you from feeling like you have a place in society. That is the environment that stigma creates. And stigma doesn’t just come from other people – it also comes from within. Self-stigma can convince us that we are incapable and unworthy of living a happy, fulfilling life, which often introduces the question, “why try?”. From that perspective, it’s hard to remember that climbing out from under a mountain of secrets and shame can be the beginning of a very gratifying journey back to wellness. Instead, we use it as a weighted blanket and wrap ourselves up.

Some researchers believe that stigma is actually making us sicker because it prevents nearly two-thirds of individuals living with mental illness from seeking care, but how difficult is treatment to obtain for those of us who do seek it? Not as easy as you might think. Depression is the leading cause of disability throughout the world, and the global costs of mental illness is projected to reach six trillion dollars by 2030. Given the egregious cost to society, it would be totally reasonable to assume that mental health is covered by every health care plan in our country, right? Wrong. Over 20% of people who seek mental health care through their insurance say that their recovery needs are still not being met. To make matters worse, almost 15% of individuals who live with a mental illness don’t have any insurance at all. That means millions of people either need to pay the skyrocketing costs out of pocket (the average cost of one therapy session is over $100 and up to $500 for an appointment with a psychiatrist), or they go without.

Maybe it will take some time to fix the mental health care system, but there is something you can do today to help people living with a mental health condition: educate yourself about mental health. There are many misconceptions about people living with mental health conditions and shattering those stereotypes can help fight stigma and help the 59% of adults who go without help feel comfortable seeking treatment. For example, mental health comes up in the media quite often in reference to mass shootings, but people with serious mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be the victims of a crime than the perpetrators. Finding out the facts is crucial to the mental health community. If you’re living with a mental illness, you’ll learn better how to understand yourself, what type of treatment is available to you, and how to obtain it. If you’re not, you’ll be able to care for those in your life who are and be a positive part of their healing journey. It might be surprising to know how therapeutic it is just to know someone understands.

So this year, for World Mental Health Day, I plan to sit down with someone I love and help them understand what I’m going through, and see if maybe I can understand them a little better, too. Compassion is the greatest gift we have in fighting the challenges that come with mental illness, and we ALL have the power to show more. Together, we can heal each other.

Check out KRL’s Mental Health section for more mental health related articles.

Rebecca is a blogger and Academic Coordinator for a Career Coaching Academy. In her spare time, she likes to act, sing, and write whatever comes to mind. She’s been a mental health advocate for years and has shared her story everywhere from California to Australia to help stop stigma. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her fiance and two cats, Spyro and Crash.

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