It is undeniable that across the Western world, mental health is a pervasive issue. You have by now, no doubt seen many PSAs or commercials talking about the issue of mental health. However, many of those commercials fail to adequately get across the seriousness of the issue. In this article, we are going to talk about a variety of different issues, including the prevalence of mental health, the stigma around it, and the importance of getting educated on the issue of mental health.
How Prevalent Are Mental Health Issues?
As we said in the introduction, a lot of people don’t seem to fully grasp the significant mental health issues facing many Western countries. To give you an idea of the scale of the problem, let’s look at statistics from both the UK and the USA.
In the UK, at least 26% of Adults report having been diagnosed with at least one mental illness. Close to 20% have reported having a mental illness, but not being diagnosed. Even if you maybe think the undiagnosed numbers are a bit high, you end up with over 40% of the population either having a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness. That means that somewhere in the vicinity of 26 million people deal with mental health problems in the UK.
Statistics from the United States tell a very similar story. Roughly 20% of adults (1 in 5) suffer from a mental illness in any given year. This number of 20% puts the US roughly on terms with the UK. Every year, America loses close to $200 billion dollars because of mental illness (people being hospitalized, not attending work, etc.).
These numbers should hopefully get across the scale of the mental health crisis facing many countries. It is also a crisis that is potentially becoming worse. For example, the BBC reports that over the last 17 years, the number of suicides in the US has skyrocketed by over 30%.
The Stigma Associated with Mental Health
There is a significant stigma associated with mental health, which arises because many people still very poorly understand mental health issues.
Particularly damaging is the several misconceptions that float around about mental health. These misconceptions encourage people to not report mental health problems and to not seek treatment for them. Many people have this misconception that mental illnesses aren’t real illnesses, and that you can overcome them simply by “toughening up.” People also have this misconception that those with mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are dangerous and violent.
The reality is that people with mental illnesses are just like everyone else, they can be mothers and fathers or sons and daughters. Sadly, too many people still view those with mental illnesses as “different,” and hold the view that they need to be locked away and forgotten.
Thankfully, people are speaking out to try and break the stigma surrounding mental health. Very famous people, including Prince Harry and several NBA stars, have spoken about their struggles with mental health issues like depression and Anxiety.
Why It Is Important to Be Educated on Mental Health
A big part of the reason why it is important to be educated on mental health is that you can never know where a mental health crisis will strike. Mental health problems may end up surfacing in either a personal context or in a professional context. One day you may notice your coworker or your employee struggling with depression. The next day you may notice a loved one struggling with a different kind of mental illness. Being able to recognize signs and talk about mental health issues can be incredibly useful in all parts of your life. It can not only help your personal life, but it can also help foster an effective, efficient workplace.
Thankfully, educating yourself on mental health problems has never been easier. You can find plenty of information online. You can even find courses, such as this one – Mental Health Awareness from Key2Evolve, which gives you tons of useful resources and guides not only to learn more about mental health but also to promote and run your own interactive bite-size training session or team discussion on mental health for your organisation.
Finally, it should be mentioned that not only is educating yourself and others about mental health important, but it is also important to look after yourself as well. Don’t ignore your own mental health. Too many people do and miss the obvious warning signs that they are suffering from a mental health issue.
Remember, life has ups and downs, and mental health issues can strike at any time.
Marie claude Bouchet
Mental well-being, stress management, resilience etc.