I am not a professional of the mind, and neither do I hold any credentials of health. I am, however, a student of experience and a young man with thoughts to share. Join me.
The mind plays perhaps the most critical role in our general wellness and being. This is not easily overlooked, especially in the times we’re living in. Yet, besides studies and data from years’ research, mental health disorders are among the greatest, most serious, untreated illnesses.
According to a report by WHO, at least 450 Million people suffer mental illness. While the report cites the greatest challenges being treatment, whether, by lack of access, poor appropriation of funds, and even neglect, it is an undeniable fact that stigma, poor prior handling of one’s condition and also the unthinkable discrimination all play a role of hindrance towards better mental health.
Before seeking treatment, which as aforementioned, isn’t really as sought, it would be paramount to understand what mental illness really entails.
Are you mentally ill?
No, you are not. If your answer was yes, then here’s a big, fat, NO. Illness doesn’t define a person. I like to look at disorders of the mind as just that―missing pieces and disruption of a healthy and somewhat orderly psychological and emotional states.
“Normalcy is but a state of mind.” (From Doom Patrol).
What are some matters of the mind?
From neurological development to bipolar and even anxiety disorders, mental illnesses can be inexhaustible. Nonetheless, you will find stress, dissociative, eating, sleeping, disruptive, and also depressive disorders to be just as common. Personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, schizophrenia, and substance-related disorders will end my list, as I found them to be most widespread, based on research and statistical data.
What causes mental illness?
My best answer would be: what has the potential to affect your emotions? Your thinking? Relationships? Psychological well-being? It could be a myriad of factors! Everything we surround ourselves with, interact with, eat, and even indulge in is, in my opinion, capable of putting down our normal mental functioning, thus affecting its well-being.
When the effects progress to hindering your ability to perform your duties as you would, participate in important activities or show up for critical day-to-day responsibilities; therefore, it would be safe to regard your mind as affected, perhaps adversely enough to require help with getting you back on track.
What poses the challenge then?
Getting help with physical aches/pains can be easy or possibly so. A stomach upset, an aching head, a bruise, or even more severe matters involving accidents, tumors, and diseases of all kinds. They are easier to find, show, treat, or try to. I look at matters of the mind differently, and I would understand why a majority of people facing mental health challenges could avoid, reject, or neglect the offered or available help.
One factor to consider is that with mental illness, pain or discomfort may not always be present within, so seeking professional help, more often than not, comes as an individual decision.
Prescriptions could have you knocking on a doc’s door as soon as you feel ready to make the move, and others could make the move as a last resort. What lies in between are many uncertainties caused by not only the stigma around mental health, but also history, and discrimination, among more.
Well, to start with, would you easily show someone the bruises in your mind without letting them in there? Is it easy to open up and let people in? One wrong person could send you packing because undeniably, not everyone understands or even cares. Some people you’d turn to could also look at opening up so differently, and for many reasons, you too may eventually change your feelings about opening up, if you didn’t start with doubts.
So, how do you get help?
You have probably heard people say that to get help, you need to help yourself first. I do not totally disagree. I am not against therapy or any form of professional help, especially since some people thrive with them. I simply believe in you more. In the next article (on Thursday), we’ll start the journey of looking into how we can help you help you. See you then!
Benson Langat is a poet, fiction writer, and freelancer. A dreamer, he realizes a world of possibilities through stories and explores life in poetry. Benie is a dad and lives in Nairobi, Kenya.