World Mental Health Day 2019 is coming up! In the United States alone, nearly 46.6 million adults—that’s 1 in 5 people—experience some type of mental illness in a given year. Some studies show that disorders like depression and anxiety are at an all time high, fueled by stressors related to family life, career, finances, and more. To shed light on mental health awareness, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes October 10th as World Mental Health Day. Let’s take a look at why mental health disorders are so prominent around the globe, and how people with mental illnesses can improve their wellbeing.

Why is Mental Health Awareness Important?

 There’s no shortage of research that illustrates the prominence of mental health issues today. Globally, around 450 million people are suffering from mental disorders, placing mental health issues among the leading causes of disability worldwide. But mental health is still widely stigmatized, and people suffering from mental health conditions often face discrimination. This negative perspective on mental health keeps many people from getting the treatment they need to recover and feel their best.

One of the reasons why mental health awareness is important is that it can reduce the number of people suffering in silence. In 2017, suicide was the 10th leading cause of adult deaths in the United States. By normalizing mental health, people with mental health disorders realize that they aren’t alone. Having a mental health disorder can be extremely isolating, but opening up the conversation around mental health creates an environment where people feel more comfortable discussing their own struggles.

Speaking openly about mental health can also help people suffering get appropriate treatment from a licensed mental health professional, which in turn reduces reliance on drugs and alcohol for coping. Transparency around mental health awareness helps people with mental disorders find resources, support groups, or activities to improve their wellbeing. Additionally, friends and family members of those with a mental illness can learn how to effectively help and support their loved ones.

Who is at Risk for Mental Health Disorders?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 1 in 25 adults in the United States experience a serious mental illness in a given year. For children, roughly 1 in 5 youth between the ages of 13–18 will experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their lives. Regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status, everyone is at risk of developing a mental health illness.

External factors do play a significant role in the development of mental health disorders, but it’s important for everyone to regularly check in with themselves, and determine how they are feeling and coping with certain situations. If you’re experiencing low self-esteem, withdrawing from activities, feeling sad, or having excessive fears, it’s recommended to seek treatment.

How to Improve Mental Health

 Suffering from a mental health disorder can feel like you’re stuck in a long tunnel, constantly searching to find the light at the end. But improving mental health doesn’t necessarily require expensive therapy sessions, or prescription medications. There are many ways to improve mental wellbeing that are cost-effective, and can be done on your own time, from the comfort of your home. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Talk to Someone

 One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to have an open conversation with someone you trust—that could be a psychologist or therapist, but it could also be a close friend, colleague, or family member. Let them know how you’re feeling, what challenges you’re facing, and what’s going on that might be bringing you down. Sometimes hearing these struggles out loud can be enough to relieve racing thoughts, or uncertainty. Getting advice from someone else can give you a different perspective on the situation, and help you break through a difficult situation.

  1. Exercise Regularly

Moving your body every day is a great way to keep your mind sharp, healthy, and happy. If you’re suffering from a mental health disorder, exercising for a short period each day is a great way to feel better. During and after exercising, the body releases feel-good endorphins that can significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Find an exercise program that fits into your schedule, and makes you excited to work out. That might be a short swim in the summer, taking your dogs for a long walk, attending a dance class, or doing yoga.

  1. Focus on Self-Care

Mental health conditions can be triggered by career stress, family life, or other obligations. Despite the responsibilities we all face, don’t forget to make yourself a priority. Every day, do something you enjoy that makes you happy and relaxed, that is away from all other distractions. Maybe that means treating yourself to a manicure, getting regular massages, or cooking your favorite meal at home. Find ways to give yourself something to look forward to each day.

Spreading Awareness of Mental Health

 As we recognize World Mental Health Day on October 10th, it’s important to remember that mental health issues are common, and most people will experience mental health challenges at some point during their lives. The world is losing too many children and adults to suicide every year, as a result of unresolved mental health issues. Remember that mental health conditions aren’t only for people of a certain economic status, gender, or age. We’re all at risk, and we should be having open and honest conversations about the state of mental health around the world, and treatment options that are available.

If you’re suffering from mental health issues that are fueled by drug and alcohol use, contact us today to learn how Windward Way’s counselors can provide the treatment and support needed to improve your mental health and wellbeing.