How’s your Mental Health?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Demi Lavato. Chris Evans. Prince Harry. Chrissy Teigen. Simone Biles.
The list is growing. What do these celebrities have in common besides their fame?
All have recently spoken out about their struggles with mental wellness.
In August, the world watched as Biles struggled to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics held in Tokyo. She publicly cited the pressure she was feeling to succeed, as well as the fear of failing, for hindering her performance.
Along the same lines, fellow female athlete Naomi Osaka, ranked second in the world in women’s tennis, recently bowed out of the French Open and Wimbledon in order to concentrate on her mental wellness. In an interview in Time, she wrote, “I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s OK to not be OK; and it’s OK to talk about it. There are people that can help, and there is usually light at the end of any tunnel.”
Such candidness is helping to quell the stigma that has long been associated with mental health disease, and some mental health professionals are crediting this openness with an increase in individuals seeking care for their mental health struggles.
There probably isn’t anyone among us who hasn’t personally struggled with mental health disorders or knows someone who does or did. As Prince Harry stated to the British newspaper The Telegraph,”The experience that I have is that once you start talking about it, you suddenly realize that actually, you’re part of quite a big club.”
With this increase in awareness comes a responsibility to recognize signs of mental instability and to know where to find help. Embracing that responsibility continues to grow within the business community, with many employers providing staff members with access to free or reduced-cost mental health care, while also taking other measures to ensure that mental well-being is given the same level of concern, attention and aid as physical wellness.
Signs and symptoms of mental disorders are as varied as the illnesses themselves and the individuals who suffer from them. However, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI, common signs of mental distress among adults and adolescents include:
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and having low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality
- Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
A great deal of information about mental health assistance can be found online. NAMI, for example, offers a toll-free help line: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, the Missouri Department of Mental Health provides a list of community health centers located in each county in the state.
Marking Mental Health Awareness Month in May provides a good opportunity to broaden your knowledge about mental health issues facing individuals today and the resources available to help address those situations. Such efforts could contribute to a better quality of life for someone or even save a life.