Although it is brought to the forefront once a year for a month, mental
health awareness should be on our minds all year long because of the impact
it has on our everyday lives. According to the National Institute of Mental
Health (NIMH), 44.7 million people suffer from some form of mental health
issues, which is roughly 1 out of every 6 Americans.
But what exactly does that mean?
NIMH identifies a broad spectrum of issues beyond the conventional perception
of mental Illnesses, including adjustment disorders, various grades/degrees
of anxiety or depression and addiction. In society, there seems to be
the expectation that everyone must be happy, or that a person that cannot
handle life’s stressors is considered weak. This unrealistic expectation
often leads to stigmatization and a false thought process that adversely
affects self-esteem, confidence, and worth.
Mental health and mental illness are often used interchangeably, but how
they are received is quite different. For many, mental illness evokes
stigma along with insensitive adjectives that can be cruel, such as “crazy”,
“nut-job”, or “retarded.” As for mental health,
it tends to be seen in a more positive light, and there always seems to
be more of an emphasis on sleep health, time away from work, meditation,
working out or spending time doing things of interest.
“Negative thoughts and words are like weapons that do not draw blood
but do create deep wounds that are difficult to heal,” - Jon Boschen.
For us, it’s easy to get caught up in everyday life and not care
for ourselves like we should; compromises are often made to push ourselves
a little more at the expense of self-care and overall health. Unfortunately,
for many, that push never really stops and becomes part of the status
quo, from which it is difficult to turn back. In many cases, our mind
is not allowed to rest, recharge and have time to unpack all the clutter
from the day, resulting in situations where it gets bogged down over time.
When this happens, the first thing to suffer is sleep—whether it’s
going to sleep later or waking up earlier than intended. As this behavior
progresses, it may be very difficult on a person because the mind is still
working overtime to clear up the clutter diverting the energy needed to
replenish the naturally occurring chemicals in our brains that assist
in rebalancing our mood. Unfortunately, the added stress on the mind becomes
habit, and has the potential to progress to adjustment issues and even
burnout that could lead to more serious clinical issues like anxiety,
depression or addiction.
Talking to a professional is important: whether it’s a doctor, nurse
or other healthcare expert. The CDC reports that on average, 21% of adults
between the ages of 18-64 have a diagnosable anxiety disorder and roughly
6.7% of the total U.S. population experience a major depressive episode
each year. In addition, 20% of American teenagers think about suicide
each year; with 1 in 12 actually attempting it.
As a result, many people underreport symptoms or use maladaptive coping
skills to manage the burden they are struggling with; possibly through
self-harm, addiction or suicide. We have all seen the posters and bulletin
boards from law enforcement telling us to say something when we see something.
So, what will it take for us to translate this practice to care for our
fellow people? The stigma that surrounds mental health dominates and creates
barriers for those struggling to make the decision to seek help. Please
know the signs and symptoms and reach out to a professional; recognition
and communication are key. Help is available—don’t wait.
Turning Point, our goal is to help our patients cope with drug and alcohol addictions
through a variety of treatment programs, such as detoxification programs,
family wellness programs, and transitional living. To take the next step
towards overcoming your addition, you can
review our admissions process,
refer a loved one to our center, or
request admission for yourself today.
Call 973.380.0905 or contact us online
About the Author: Jon Boschen has been working in the fields of mental
health and substance abuse for almost a decade. He earned his master’s
degree in Clinical Social Work from Rutgers University and is dually licensed
by the State of New Jersey as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
and a Licensed Clinical Alcohol Drug Counselor (LCADC).