American society has struggled with placing equal importance on both mental and physical health; despite an overall shift towards compassion when it comes to mental illness, a majority of Americans still view those with mental illness as “damaged” or “broken”. This saddening perspective really takes a toll on societal health, as the World Health Organization (WHO) states that one in four people in the world will experience a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives. This is close to America’s numbers, as nearly one in five adults in the United States – 43.8 million people, to be exact – experience mental illness in a given year.
Before we dive into the question of importance, let’s explore why mental health has not been regarded as important as physical health in past decades. First, our society has struggled to understand one another’s experiences if those experiences cannot be easily “proven” or “seen”. For example, it’s been much easier in the past to disregard someone as “crazy” than to ask them questions to better understand their symptoms and overall reality. Second, the perception surrounding mental illness has been one of a “character flaw” rather than an issue that needs tended to with love and support. Lastly, people have found it easier in the past to disregard mental illness rather than pay special attention to it – looking into the causes and experiences behind mental illness seems to have been too much work for many people in the past. Thankfully, this is changing.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, because they are connected forces. For example, a 2017 article published by Princeton University emphasized that untreated mental illness can lead to the condition worsening over time, physical health issues such as chronic pain, financial problems, lack of job stability, prison, being taken advantage of by others, and death by suicide. In fact, 90% of suicides are caused by mental illness; can you imagine how many lives we could save by providing these individuals with the proper support they need? There are ways that we can continue shifting societal perceptions towards compassion and understanding of mental illness, here’s how:
- Place your own mental health as a top priority. Don’t be afraid to seek treatment or go to a therapist.
- Be supportive of your friends and family who experience mental illness. Ask them questions to learn more about their disorder and provide support.
- Respectfully correct individuals who disregard mental illness. The only way our society can change for the better is through education.
Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery.
For information call us today: 888-316-3665.