A mental health issue is a mental or behavioral anomaly that causes suffering or impairs the ability to function. Mental health conditions affect the way you perceive situations, think, or feel, and thus how you act. This definition is broad so that it can catch a wide variety of symptoms, effects, and diagnoses, many of which can hold a negative stigma. The truth is, the stigma that may be associated with the diagnosis of a mental health issue is ill-placed. Prevention, understanding, and treatment are important in efforts to combat the discrimination and fear that hold back progress.
Mental health issues are common and affect a majority of people at one point or another. If you haven’t personally been affected, chances are you know someone who has. Volumes of research have found that almost all Americans aged 16 to 84 had experienced a mental health condition or known someone who had.
The most common mental health concern in the world is depression, predicted to be the largest health issue globally by 2020. Anxiety is the second-most commonly reported issue and is on the rise with busier, more stressful lives and the absence of active preventative measures. If you experience one of these conditions, you’re nowhere near alone! Although it can be difficult to see beyond the lines of the condition, it is important to get help so that you can move toward successful coping.
Many people feel that they can somehow “wait things out,” as if just wishing it away and complacently adjusting to a compromised lifestyle is their only option. Few mental health issues retreat on their own without any treatment or active work by the person affected. Depression and anxiety have large, obvious costs that affect you, your job, your family, and your friends.
Staggering costs are associated with mental health issues. Suicide is the most extreme cost, as it costs your life. According to statistics at NAMI.org, the website for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 15% of depressed people take their own lives and suicide is the 11th-leading cause of death in the United States. However, the other 85% of people experiencing depression suffer innumerable personal costs, too. Living with untreated depression can be very difficult, as can be the challenges and work it takes to achieve successful coping and treatment.
Relationships may suffer greatly for those with mental health issues because when life is difficult to navigate on your own, others may get pushed away and it can be hard to feel loved and trust others. Untreated mental health issues often compel people to shut down, and thus school performance, work performance, motivation, and a basic passion for life may dwindle. People experiencing major depression are associated with taking more annual sick days than people experiencing any chronic disease. According to NAMI, depressed workers have the highest rates of absenteeism and the lowest rates of productivity.
The costs of untreated mental health issues are large, and although we should be concerned with the effects that spread out to social networks, workplace earnings, and national investments, the most notable costs are individual. Mental health conditions affect people, first and foremost, and the key to treating and coping with them is to reach out for help, accept, understand, and grow.
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