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Why is mental health awareness important?

You can take your mental health for granted when everything is going well. But being aware of the symptoms and treatment options can help you prepare for unexpected challenges and support those around you.

Why is mental health ignored?

Dr.  William La Valle, a licensed psychologist and psychology instructor at SNHUAccording to Dr. William LaVallea licensed psychologist and instructor in psychology programs at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), many people don’t think they need to prioritize their mental health.

La Valle has a doctorate in clinical psychology and received a Provost award.

“Mental health is often left behind,” he says. But taking care of this aspect of your well-being is one of the most important things you can do if you want to live a full and productive life.

According to La Valle, if you don’t keep an eye on your mental health, you could be more vulnerable to its effects.

“If you’re not actively aware of your mental state, you may notice things like a shorter attention span, irritability, and difficulty actively engaging with your environment,” says La Valle.

On the other hand, if you are aware of mental health, you can take action to prevent these types of symptoms and take steps to improve your overall well-being.

Why is mental health important in everyday life?

An icon of two hands holding a heartSo why is mental health important, even if you’re not struggling? It informs virtually every aspect of your life – and the lives of those around you.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), mental health affects multiple aspects of well-being, including:

  • Emotional well-being
  • Mental well-being
  • Social well-being

Although mental and physical health are often discussed as separate phenomena, they are actually quite intertwined.

“It’s common for someone to struggle with mental health and experience physical health issues,” says La Valle. “For example, anxiety and stress can lead to things like high blood pressure, headaches and loss of appetite.”

He noted that the reverse is also true, and that there are benefits to exercise and taking care of your physical health.

“Regular self-care and taking care of your mental state should be scheduled into your daily routine, just like doctor appointments, work and chores,” La Valle said. “Taking time for yourself helps reduce burnout and allows you to be more present in the moment.”

How does mental health affect society as a whole?

A blue icon and a white icon in the shape of the world with arrows and dashes around itLike physical health, mental health can also be a public health issue. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, of the 582,484 individuals who were unsheltered, in emergency housing, or in transitional housing on one night in 2022, 122,888 were reported to be seriously mentally ill (PDF source). In total that is more than 21%.

In addition to other sociological factors, world events such as pandemics, war and political unrest can also influence well-being on a broad scale. For example, Mental Health America reports that global conflict can cause high levels of stress and lead to depression, even if you are not directly affected.

La Valle also pointed out that social media is a double-edged sword in this regard, which can either help or harm the general public.

“Apps like TikTok have a lot of videos about mental health, many of which contain misinformation,” he said. “At the same time, they also help reduce the stigma around mental health by opening conversations about these topics.”

Why is mental health more important now than ever?

An icon of a person pushing a ball up a hillAccording to the Pew Charitable Trusts, the United States is currently in the midst of a mental health crisis. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported a growing and alarming percentage of young people who are suicidal, depressed and/or experiencing sexual violence, and in 2023 Psychiatric News also reported that many psychiatrists are calling for action to address the problem mental health (CDC PDF resource).

There are many factors that could be contributing to this trend, but La Valle also noted that one thing is certain: the world is finally starting to pay more attention to mental health.

“Mental health has always been important,” he says. “The current research only further strengthens the connection between mental and physical health.”

He said discoveries about this link between mental and physical health have led to more conversations, changing the public’s perspective on mental illness in general.

“The stigma surrounding mental health care has decreased dramatically and individuals are seeking support now more than ever,” La Valle said. “However, there is still work to be done to let people know that it is okay to not be okay sometimes.”

What mental health resources are available?

An icon of two speech bubbles, one at the top, coming from the right, and one at the bottom, coming from the left.Seeking help may not always feel easy, but it can lead to healing. “Just as you strive to keep your body in shape, making sure your mental health is also ‘in shape’ means being the best person you can be,” La Valle said.

If you or someone you know is affected by this, please consult a doctor or doctor. To find care, contact your insurance company or use Psychology Today’s directory to find a mental health professional near you.

For immediate assistance, the following services are also available in the United States:

“Feeling confident and open about your own mental health can be very powerful,” says La Valle. “Don’t be afraid to put yourself first.”

Mars Girolimon ’21 ’23G is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University, where they received their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in both English and creative writing. In addition to their work in higher education, Girolimon’s short fiction has been published in the North American Review, So It Goes from The Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library, XRAY, and more. They are currently writing their debut novel, which was longlisted for the First Pages Prize. Connect with them LinkedIn.

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