What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.’  ~Glenn Close

It’s impossible to have a conversation about health and wellness without talking about mental health. The conversation around mental health awareness has never been as public, as prevalent, or as important. After all, building awareness is a critical ingredient to learning.

In recent years, there has been increasing acknowledgement of the important role mental health plays in achieving global development goals, as illustrated by the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals. 

  • Depression is one of the leading causes of disability. 
  • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. 
  • People with severe mental health conditions die prematurely – as much as two decades early – due to preventable physical conditions. 
  • Despite progress in some countries, people with mental health conditions often experience severe human rights violations, discrimination, and stigma.

(Source – World health organization)

What is mental health awareness?

Mental health awareness is the ongoing effort to reduce the stigma regarding mental illness and mental health conditions by sharing our personal experiences or normalizing it by educating yourself about it.

Often, because of misconceptions about mental health and mental fitness, people often suffer in silence and their conditions go untreated. Mental health awareness is an important social movement to both improve understanding and increase access to healthcare.

How Can Mental Health Awareness Help?

Mental health awareness doesn’t just help you. Knowing more about mental health disorders can also help your family members, friends, and coworkers. Three of the main reasons why mental health awareness is so important are outlined below:

1. Understand Your Symptoms

A lot of people who have mental health symptoms don’t actually realize that their struggles are a result of untreated disorders. Therefore, mental health awareness is helpful in getting you to understand your symptoms.

While all mental health conditions have different symptoms, some signs to look out for include:

* Changes in sleeping patterns

* Loss of appetite

* Impulsive decision making

* Turning to drugs or alcohol in moments of distress

* Suicidal thoughts

If you haven’t been feeling like yourself lately, you might have a mental health issue that requires immediate treatment. After all, the symptoms of mental health disorders can be incredibly dangerous for both your emotional and physical health.

2. Demand for Better Resources 

Another significant benefit to mental health awareness is that the more people know about the need for mental health treatment, the more mental health resources will become available. Without mental health resources, people would not be able to recover.

The most important mental health resources are:

* Mental health hospitals

* Behavioral health programs

* Mental wellbeing centers

* Counseling and crisis care helplines 

* Inpatient mental health treatment 

In mental health hospitals, you will have all of the resources you need to recover from mental health conditions, heal from co-occurring disorders, and learn strategies to maintain your health after your time in treatment.

3. Break the Mental Health Stigma

Most importantly, mental health awareness can break the stigma of needing mental health care. Having mental health disorders doesn’t mean that you are ‘crazy’. In actuality, mental health impacts millions of people across the country. With more awareness and the right mental health care, you will realize that you are not alone. Having mental health support gets you one step closer to mental health recovery.

4. Promotes Mental Fitness

Many of us have fallen into the trap of thinking of mental health as solely related to mental illness. However, it’s possible to have a mental health condition and be mentally fit, and the absence of a mental health condition doesn’t necessarily ensure mental fitness.

Ideas to Promote Mental Health Awareness

How can an individual make a difference in promoting mental health awareness? A big part of it is learning to talk and share about mental health openly. When we are quiet about mental health and fitness, we allow stigma to continue. That silence makes it harder for people to prioritize their own mental well-being.

Here are a few ideas to promote mental health awareness within your community.

* Speak up 

 When you participate in self-advocacy for your mental health, you’re empowering others to do the same. You’ll likely inspire others to do the same. Like asking for a day off not only when you are physically sick but also when you are exhausted or dealing with something mentally challenging. For instance- breakup, death of a loved one, chaos in life etc.

* Educate yourself

Take time to learn about mental health. Learn about common mental health conditions, and how to take care of yourself when you’re experiencing symptoms. 
It can be helpful to keep an eye on your own warning signs to know when you’re starting to get triggered or overwhelmed. If you find resources that may benefit others, share them with those around you.

* Take professional help

 Talk to a mental health professional or psychologists for better insights. Volunteer in the teams and companies who promote mental wellbeing like us in Spark of light. We have a full fledged team which works for the mental welfare and holistic wellbeing of the society.

Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.’ ~Fred Rogers