Mental Health and Why You Should Care

There is a mental health crisis in the United States with nearly one in four young adults being treated for a mental health condition in 2021. The number of people diagnosed with anxiety and depression has also increased by more than 25% over the past few years.

The numbers clearly show that we need to focus on mental health as a community. Too often mental health is seen as an individual problem, which is why sufferers are frequently overlooked. We often don't know how to help when someone in our community is struggling. However, in order to reduce the above numbers, it is important that we not only know how to help but that we care.

Recognizing mental health issues

Mental health is a state of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It's an essential aspect of our overall health that impacts our day-to-day lives. It can affect how we think and perceive the world, how we treat our relationships, and how we function on a daily basis.

Mental health symptoms can include anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse. These issues can affect everyone, but those on the margins of society, such as people living in poverty and homelessness, are the most vulnerable. And these conditions can easily worsen or become more difficult to treat later in life if left untreated.

The increasing diagnosis of mental health illnesses in communities means that more people than ever need qualified social workers and mental health clinicians. This is why more universities are providing opportunities for potential social workers to pursue social work training in higher education. In order to provide training to the widest possible pool of students, many top universities are offering online social work degrees. Both on-campus and online courses teach future social workers to give a voice to marginalized individuals, families, organizations, and communities, and train them to be able to better diagnose mental illnesses. Having these people in the community who can serve those in need with compassion and dignity is critical to addressing mental health challenges. Professionals uniquely trained to respond to these problems can make an immediate and much-needed impact on those who genuinely need it. Yet, we can’t just rely on these professionals, it is up to all of us as a community to care for and support those with mental health issues.

Why we must care for those with mental health issues

Below are some of the reasons why we must care for and support those with mental health issues:

Reduced cases of substance abuse:

Mental health disorders can make it difficult for individuals to make good choices about their physical health. Substance abuse often occurs as a way to self-medicate or cope with the symptoms of a mental health disorder. People who can access mental health support are less likely to engage in this kind of risky behavior.

Lower incidence of violence:

Supporting a person’s mental health means supporting the ability to think clearly, feel good about oneself, and take control of one's life. It also means being able to help others in their growth and development. People are less likely to resort to violence or other destructive behaviors when they are happy and healthy.

Greater productivity:

Increased productivity is one essential benefit of supporting a community's mental health. The ability to focus and concentrate on the task at hand is crucial for a productive work environment. When community members suffer from low moods or anxiety, they cannot perform as well in their responsibilities. Supporting those with mental health-related concerns will benefit workplaces and the overall community as a whole.

Improved quality of life:

Many people do not realize how closely related mental health and physical health are. A person who is suffering from depression, for instance, may also have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease or even diabetes. When communities address mental health issues by encouraging those struggling to seek treatment and support, they can improve the quality of life of each member.

Mental health is an integral part of the human experience. However, mental health problems are often misunderstood. People need to understand the importance of caring for those with mental health problems so they can provide support to their community.

Contributed by: Jennifer Birch