Every March 2nd we celebrate World Teen Mental Wellness Day, a day in which we shine a light on the various mental health issues teens may face, and how they affect them and their families. According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five teenagers suffers from any type of mental condition. Despite these alarming numbers, we still seem to give a much greater importance to physical health, instead of realizing that both mental and physical health play equally important roles in the life of a person. In this article, we will be discussing this topic, and explaining the close link between mental and physical health.
First off, we must start by identifying common mental health conditions. The following are some of the most common, however, there is a wider variety:
Most of the time, people that suffer the terrible effects and symptoms of mental disorders, also have to face the stigma and prejudice that surrounds them: people tend to think that people that suffer any kind of mental disorder are “crazy” or are “strange”, minimizing their experience, which actually is more common than most of us think: according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are approximately 52.9 million people living with a mental illness in the United States alone.
On the other hand, Some recommendations to fight the stigma of mental health by the National Alliance on Mental Illness are:
Getting to know at least a bit about the most common mental health conditions and empathizing with those who suffer from them is very important. Regardless of your mental stability, we can all contribute by being accepting towards people with mental conditions and to fight the stigma around these medical conditions, and this helps us understand the real importance of maintaining a stable mental health.
Our mental health is important for us to maintain a good quality of life, since our mental health also has a huge impact on our physical health. Both of them have a bidirectional relation, which can be simply explained, however there is so much more to it: a poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic physical diseases, and suffering from any physical condition is very likely to result in mental illness, given that diseases may come with a lot of stress. For example, people with anxiety are two times more likely to smoke, which represents a big threat to someone’s health; people with depression tend to be physically inactive, further increasing their chances of being physically unhealthy. On the other hand, obesity may cause depression or eating disorders, while diabetes has been closely linked with mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.
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If as a parent you suspect your teen is going through a hard time, the first thing you should do is let them know your concerns, but be very careful not to make them think they’re “crazy” or that it’s their fault. Offer them the possibility of taking them to a psychologist or psychiatrist, remind them that they can count on you and specialized people to deal with this type of situation. Likewise, seek support for yourself: mental illness does not only affect the person that has it.
Finally, encourage the following actions. In order to maintain a good mental health, therefore a good physical health, small actions go a long way:
We can’t say it enough: mental wellness matters, and there is no shame in having a mental illness, it is completely normal and you are not alone. There are many organizations, with specialists and trained workers ready to lend a hand, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, among others. Below you will find some of their phone numbers where you can reach out for help. Help is a phone call away.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
What steps are you taking towards making our communities more accepting towards people who suffer from mental illnesses? What do you think we could do better as a society? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!
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