Today, October 10th 2016, is World Mental Health Day. The next 24 hours will see various people, groups and organisations around the world advocating the importance of speaking out about mental health and erasing the stigma that can still be associated with it. But what do we think of when we hear the words mental health? We’re slowly making inroads when it comes to dismantling the stigma – this is, in part due, to the many public figures speaking openly about their struggles – but research says that, all too often, reactions can still be negative and uninformed. And informed we need to be; 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem, one in five are dealing with mental health conditions in Ireland today (regardless of age), and 75% of all mental health disorder occurs before the age of 25 years – in particular, our young people are more anxious than ever.
The fact remains that a purely physical condition is more widely accepted than a psychological condition, yet we know you can’t really have a condition that’s entirely ‘all in your head.’ You’re not imagining it. Yes, psychology plays a part, but depression, anxiety and other such conditions are hugely physiological. For example, someone suffering from depression hasn’t chosen to simply remain in a bad mood; there’s a very real imbalance of chemicals and hormones at play that manifests itself as depression or a variety of other ways, such as bipolar, panic disorder, OCD and so on.
So today, we have an opportunity to challenge our perception of mental health and speak out about it. Sometimes, if we’re struggling in this sense, the symptoms manifest themselves in physical forms; tiredness, insomnia, illness you can’t shake etc but as you can’t always ‘see’ signs, people are reluctant to talk openly about it, and it can take other forms in Duck Syndrome, work stress and even what’s known as ‘high-functioning anxiety.’
As you’ll see from the above video, this is where a person can look calm on the surface, but underneath that practiced veneer, their thoughts are churning. The condition is characterised by persistent negative thoughts, restlessness and even physical symptoms like muscle tension. So the affected person, even if they are excelling at work or dependable to friends and family, are still plagued with negative thoughts, and it’s completely depreciating and exhausting – like all forms of anxiety and depression.
Take some time today to talk about mental health; reach out to anyone you know might need it, take a mental health day yourself or just remind a friend, they aren’t alone.
And If you feel that anxiety, depression or stress is getting to you, please make sure to talk to your GP, or contact aware.ie, reachout.com, mentalhealthIreland or the Samaritans for a confidential chat.