World Mental Health Day is October 10, 2021. The event was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) to increase awareness of the vital role mental health plays in personal and social well-being globally. The theme of this year’s event is the importance of making access to mental health support a reality for everyone.
By focusing one day to the awareness of mental health, you can help yourself learn the warning signs that there may be a problem. You can also be a valuable resource for loved ones who may be seeking more information.
Mental Health: The Basics
Mental health is a term that describes how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Good mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. Essentially, good mental health is about being able to effectively express a wide range of emotions, balance your own needs with those of others, handle responsibilities to the best of your ability, cope with change and adversity, and enjoy all that life has to offer.
It’s worth nothing that being mentally healthy does not mean feeling happy all the time. Feeling down or having a bad day sometimes is normal. But when negative moods, thoughts, and choices begin to hurt you and the people you care for, it’s time to make some positive changes.
The Importance of Mental Health Awareness
Mental health issues can harm your physical health, damage relationships, reduce your ability to fulfill your duties and achieve goals, and keep you from getting the most out of life.
For young people in particular, mental health challenges can make it harder for them to grow into healthy adults and realize their full potential. Left untreated, mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety can lead to serious consequences, including self-harm.
Some mental health conditions and situations do call for professional help. Talking to your family medicine provider is a great place to start.
What to Watch Out For
Fortunately, taking steps to promote mental wellness now can give your teen a solid foundation that lasts into adulthood. Some of the warning signs that your teen may be struggling with a mental health issue include:
- Feeling hopeless, helpless, or like nothing matters
- Feeling unusually upset, confused, absent-minded, tense, angry or afraid
- Harmful eating habits such as binge eating or obsession with counting calories
- Losing interest in normally enjoyable activities
- Low energy levels
- Pulling away from or fighting with friends and family
- Risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs
- Seeing or hearing things that are not there
- Severe mood swings
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Trouble completing daily tasks at home, school or work
Having mental health concerns does not mean that a person is “crazy.” It does mean that they might benefit from treatment, just like any other health issue. This could take the form of self-help strategies such as stress management or joining a support group. Changing the way you think and feel about things, as well as sharing ideas and experiences with others, may help you find better mental wellness.
If you or someone you know is experiencing an emotional crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential support.
If you have general concerns about mental health issues, schedule an appointment with your family medicine provider.