World Mental Health Day - Let's Talk About It
10 Oct 2020
World Mental Health Day focusses on the education, awareness and social stigmas surrounding mental health issues, with celebrations occurring annually on October 10th. So, let's talk about it...
Trigger warning: mental health issues (depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, sexual assault...).
World Mental Health Day
World Mental Health Day (WMHD) began in 1992. As part of an initiative by the, World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH).
The WFMH is a global mental health organisation, with members and contacts in over 150 countries around the world.
Each year, WMHD attracts thousands of supporters. Coming together to celebrate and bring attention to mental health issues.
Supporters shine a light on the major effects it can have on people's lives worldwide.
The day is part of an awareness week in some countries. Such as 'Mental Health Week'. Although for most countries, the observance is on the day itself, October 10th.
World Mental Health Day Logo (Source: WFMH)
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health requires constant attention. Not just by those who are helping to raise awareness of it. But also for those who are suffering at the hands of it.
If you do sufferer at the hands of it. It can create vulnerabilities and insecurities, in managing the most simplest of day-to-day tasks.
This can often leave you feeling: low in mood, hopeless, alone and a burden to others.
Mental Health Word Cloud (Source: Pixabay)
The Hidden Symptoms
Unfortunately, mental health issues can create somewhat invisible symptoms. Especially in the eyes of others.
This is in part due to the sufferer being able to hide them. As well as social stigmas and not wanting to be a burden to others.
In addition to this, it doesn't help that mental health symptoms do not have noticeable physical effects.
Take the common cold, or chest infection for example. You know the person is sick, because they are coughing or sneezing. Whereas with mental health issues, it's a bit more internal and not so easy to spot.
For example, if you are suffering from depression, you might appear to be a bit more quiet, or tired than usual. This can be good, if you don't want anyone to know that there is a problem; as it gives you an excuse, so as to give to others.
However, if you are struggling and don't feel able to talk to anyone. Then others will not know. They will just assume that you are quiet or tired.
Mental Health Disorders
There are a wide range of mental health disorders. But most tend to fall into the following categories:
Anxiety disorders are where you can react to certain situations, or objects with fear and dread.
Symptoms of anxiety, or panic include: rapid heartbeat, heavy breathing, sweating and restlessness.
Mood disorders are where you can experience persistent feelings of sadness; or periods of feeling happy. It also means that you can switch between extreme happiness, to extreme sadness; in long, or short periods of time.
Common types of mood disorders include: depression, bipolar and cyclothymic.
Psychotic disorders are where you can experience distorted thinking and awareness.
Common symptoms are: hallucinations and delusions.
Hallucinations are where you see images, or hear sounds that are not real. For example, hearing voices.
Delusions are where you have strong beliefs, on false information. Despite strong evidence suggesting otherwise.
A common psychotic disorder is: schizophrenia.
Eating disorders are where you can experience extreme emotions, attitude and behaviour involving: body weight, self image and food .
Common symptoms are: overeating, starvation, unhealthy habits surrounding food, as well as obsession over body weight and self image.
Common types of eating disorders include: anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.
Impulse Control and Addiction Disorders
Mental Health Alcohol Addiction (Source: Pixabay)
Impulse control and addiction disorders are where you can experience extreme urges, or impulses, to perform acts. These acts can be harmful to yourself, as well as others.
Common impulse control disorders include: pyromania (fire obsession), kleptomania (stealing obsession) as well as gambling.
Common addiction disorders include: alcohol and drugs.
These disorders can often make you obsessed with your addiction(s). So much so, that you become unaware of your responsibilities. Including: day-to-day tasks, work and relationships.
Personality disorders are where you can experience extreme and inflexible personality traits. These traits can be distressing, causing you problems in: day-to-day tasks, work and relationships.
Your way of thinking and behaviour can differ substantially from society norms. And can be so rigid, that it interferes with your basic functionality.
Common types of personality disorders include: antisocial, obsessive-compulsive and paranoid personality disorder.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Washing Hands With Soap (Source: Pixabay)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are where you can experience distressing thoughts or fears. This then forces you to perform certain routines, or rituals as a way of coping.
Obsessions refer to the distressing thoughts or fears. Whereas compulsions refer to the rituals and routines.
For example. If you have an irrational fear of germs, you are likely to wash your hands more frequently than most.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Soldier Battling PTSD (Source: Flickr)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are where you can experience frightening thoughts and vivid memories. These usually stem from previous traumatic events in your life. And can often leave you feeling numb, or disconnected.
Common causes of PTSD include: sexual assaults, death of a loved one, natural disasters, severe accidents and abuse. It also includes those who have been in, or seen armed conflict.
Work Stress Frustration (Source: pxhere)
Stress disorders are where you can feel overwhelmed, or unable to cope in certain situations. These feelings usually stem from, new or unexpected scenarios. The feeling that something threatens your feeling of self. Or feeling that you have little, or no control over a situation.
Stress is relatively new to the list. Simply because it's a strong influencer for several mental health conditions and affects the most people.
Common symptoms are: anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, or frustration.
Mental Health Disorders: It's a Package Deal
The thing with mental health, is that a lot of these conditions can influence, or nurture other conditions.
For example, it is not uncommon to feel depressed, if you constantly feel fearful of everything; due to anxiety.
In addition, the same can be said if you are suffering with an eating disorder. Not looking the way you think you should, can often leave you feeling depressed.
It's a vicious cycle and makes diagnosing and treating mental health issues, difficult and time consuming.
Mental health issues can occur in short intervals throughout your life. And they can also be a constant struggle. One that can require daily and often professional attention.
If left untreated, issues can grow. Can make you feel worse. And in some cases, lead to suicide.
Who Suffers With Mental Health?
Mental health issues affect both women and men. Across all age groups, nationalities and backgrounds.
The 2014, NHS Digital, survey: Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity, figures showed the following:
One in six adults had a common mental disorder (CMDs). Anxiety and/or depression.
This is approximately: one woman in five and one man in eight.
Since 2000, overall rates of CMDs in England increased for women, but remained more or less the same for men.
And since 2007, the rates of self-harm in men and women, increased, across all age groups. It is unknown, however, if this was due to an increase in self-harm, or just greater awareness surrounding the behaviour.
Young women have become a high-risk category, according to the report. This is due to high rates of CMDs, self-harm and positive screenings for PTSD and bipolar. It also revealed that the gap between young women and young men increased.
The report also found that most CMDs were more common in people: living alone, in poor physical health or unemployed.
Those claiming Employment and Support allowance (ESA) - a benefit aimed at those unable to work, due to poor health or disability - experienced higher rates of all assessed disorders.
Suicide in Women and Men
Statistics indicate that women are more likely to suffer from CMDs. However, statistics also indicate that men are unfortunately more likely to take their own life.
The 2018, Office for National Statistics, survey: Suicides in the UK: 2017 registrations, figures showed the following:
Registered suicides in the UK reached 5,821, in 2017. Of this figure, males accounted for three-quarters (75%) of all suicides registered (4,382 deaths). Sadly, this hasn't changed since the mid-1990s.
Based on these statistics, you could argue that women are more likely to seek help for their CMDs. While men, it would seem, are more likely to suffer in silence; until it's too late.
If you are finding things difficult, then know that someone is always there for you.
Samaritans are a unique charity, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation, disconnection as well as suicidal thoughts. Nothing is too big, or small to talk about.
So, if you just need someone to speak to, then someone is always there to listen.
You can call Samaritans for free, any time, from any phone, on: 116 123
Samaritans Logo (Source: Samaritans)
You can also talk to your local GP. Your local GP can provide specialised support, referrals and treatment should you need it.
Sadly, mental health issues are more common than you might think. The mind is a complex tool and sometimes it just requires some special attention.
Remember: there is no shame in asking for help.
Mental Health Psychology Therapist (Source: Pixabay)
You can also talk to your friends, or just be in their company. Sometimes, just doing nothing with someone is enough.
Friends sitting on bench by lake (Source: Flickr)
World Mental Health Day / Leydon Logo
The Leydon Logo symbolises a messy and scribbled colouring. This is to indicate that while things might appear to be okay from the outside. What's going on behind the scenes can be a completely different story.
World Mental Health Day Leydon Logo (Source: Archive)
"A lot of people are living with mental illness around them. Either you love one or you are one."
– Mark Ruffalo
This article on World Mental Health Day and mental health covers a lot of sensitive topics. So, if you're feeling a bit deflated, that's okay.
Head out for a walk. Talk to a friend. Or maybe do something that you enjoy, like a hobby, so as to recharge.
We could honestly write an essay on this subject. And it seems we may have inadvertently done so...
But if you can relate to anything in this article. Feel like it's been of help. Or could be to others. Then please do give it a share. You never know who might get something from it.
Together, we can end the stigma surrounding mental health!
Cover photo: Mental Health Scrabble Titles (Source: Pixabay)