Sometimes, health is not just about preserving our physical health and beauty. Taking care of our health is sometimes not about using a self-tanner instead of lathering on tanning oil and baking in the hot sun like a baked potato. Sometimes, being at our healthiest is not just about eating a balanced diet and getting our daily dose of exercise in. While there is a seemingly never-ending influx of important placed on maintaining our physical health, it is an unfortunate reality that there is not nearly as much importance placed on our mental health. Of course, this is not to say that physical health is not as important as mental health (because of course it is) but merely to point out that there is more honest and supportive conversation surrounding physical health than there is, or ever has been, surrounding mental health. It is shocking to realise just how many of us, and just how often, we take our mental health for granted. We lead exceedingly busy lives, but even so, we should always make it a priority to keep ourselves and our whole health at the forefront of our minds.
The issues of mental health struggles are becoming a global epidemic, and while this might seem like an overgeneralization, it could not be further from it. The psychology behind mental health is something that has been studied again and again, seemingly from every feasible angle. There was once the thought among many professionals that biology cures what ails psychiatry. However, here we are, decades later, still all dealing with our own demons, still struggling with the mental health issues that have plagued us for centuries. Over the hundreds and hundreds of years that mental health has been a subject of study, its causes have been attributed to everything from curses and possessions, to autoerotic fixation and weaknesses in our ego, chinks in our armour. But over time, this is one of the stubborn topics that refuses to be unveiled. We live in a complex society, and the only thing we know for certain is that mental health issues can creep up on anyone, at any time – nobody is immune, and there is no set cause, symptoms, or cure.
Dealing with mental health struggles is something that most of us deal with at some point in our lives. Whether we realise it at the time or not, is another thing entirely. Some of us have the ability or the means to go about our lives as normal, even if everything is falling apart at the seams. For others, it is difficult to even get up in the morning. While everyone is of course different, something that binds us all together, no matter our circumstances or our personal relationship with mental health (in the past, currently, or in the future), is the stigma that has stifled the supportive, honest, and open conversations that should have always been relatively allowable and commonplace. For generations and generations, people all over the world have been suffocated in their demons trying to burst forth, feeling like they could not go to someone or somewhere for support, because of the overwhelming negative stigma that surrounds the very concept of mental health. How is it that even now, in the twenty-first century, something as important as this is still so weighed down by negativity?
It is difficult to ascertain exact global statistics for mental health illnesses and fatalities, but the common denominator in each and every report around the world is that the numbers are increasingly becoming higher, and people are exceedingly reaching out for help. This is promising, but it is only the beginning of a battle we must all join forces to fight. The epidemic proportions of mental health issues these days is catastrophic. More and more people are coming forward with their own struggles in search of help, of support. And the most staggering part of the issue is that while the number of people who need support and assistance is growing, the support systems are not also growing in full support. Instead of looking in the other direction when faced with the discomfort of the face of mental health, we should be embracing it, supporting it, and allowing it to open to us, to trust us. While this is more difficult for some than it is for others, it is something that we must all strive to do. After all, the next call for help could be you. Mental health is one of the most crucial components to our whole health. We often underestimate the power of the human mind, and in so doing we do not place enough importance on its protection and preservation.
While we are seemingly always trying the latest diets and exercise trends to get a solid grasp on our physical health (which of course is always important too), we ignore the warning signs that our mental states need support too. Our mental state is one of the most precious, fragile things that we all own, and we should be doing everything we can, every day, to protect it fiercely. We all have our own demons, and the mental health epidemic that is rising exceedingly quickly is bringing more and more of them out the gates. The stigma that still, even now in 2019, surrounds mental health is stifling. The time to change the attitude towards mental health was last week, last month, last year, last decade. But it is always better to be later than to never arrive at the destination, and this is a destination worth fighting our way to. We simply cannot afford to keep losing so many of our own – some of them, forever.