Prosthetics can replace an arm or an eye. Medical oxygen can help you breathe. But there is nothing to replace your brain. This is your one and only brain, and you must take care of it. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, one in four adults will experience a diagnosable mental or neurological disorder in the United States. Many of these people will not seek help for their disorder. Why? There is a myriad of reasons for not doing so – ranging from denial, fear, distrust, feeling inadequate and financial problems. These are all appropriate reasons, but it should not prevent you from taking care of yourself.
Mental health should not be considered separate from physical health. According to the CDC, in 2017-2018, 42.4% of American adults were obese. 19.7 million American adults (12 and older) struggled with substance abuse in 2017. These are just two examples of the vast number of physical health problems someone can have that can be influenced by poor mental health. Having depression or anxiety can prevent someone from participating in physically healthy behaviors, whereas a lack of physical health can increase symptoms of depression and anxiety. You must strive for both a healthy mind and a healthy body in order to successfully achieve either.
If mental health is not taken care of, there can be frightful consequences. A member of my close family had a healthy diet and an active lifestyle – a physically healthy person. But he neglected his mental health. He mistrusted therapists and avoided opening up. He was diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, a severe mental illness if left untreated. Failure to prioritize his mental health ultimately took his life and affected every single person around him. Having poor mental health can be detrimental, so taking care of it is important. In fact, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. There are 132 suicides every day, on average, and there were an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts in 2018.
But, there is hope. There are resources; there is help. Locally, there are counselors at Northwestern Counseling and Support Services and groups such as Hope Happens Here, Voices Against Violence and so much more. Likewise, BFA’s guidance department has resources and can direct you to proper support. Your mental health is important; take care of it like you would the rest of your body.