Mental health awareness has increased over recent years, but there are still a lot of questions from people wondering why mental health is so important.
In this article, we’re taking a closer look at one of the most common questions we hear from people today – why is mental health important?
Why is Mental Health Important?
In prior times, the areas of functioning in our human life were compartmentalized. Physical health was addressed through diet and exercise. Work and school life were addressed through the commitment of will. Mental health was relegated to sessions on the psychiatrist’s couch.
Thankfully, our society has now come around to realizing the important role that mental health plays in all areas of our lives. A positive mental state forms the foundation for success in whatever we endeavor to do. Likewise, poor mental health can impede our ability to function across the spectrum of life.
So, why is mental health important?
Most of us know how hard it is to feel mentally inspired while we are feeling ill or experiencing physical pain. What is less known is the fact that our mental health can be a contributor to developing several types of physical ailments. Prolonged mental health conditions related to stress and depression can result in conditions such as gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, chronic pain, physical fatigue, and even skin conditions. To top it off, finding the energy and motivation to improve physical health through diet and exercise can prove elusive to someone busy wrestling with depression and anxiety.
This area of mental health impact is quite apparent. Not only do mental health problems negatively impact the quality of relationships that we are already in, they can also negatively influence the types of relationships that we find ourselves involved in. Unresolved mental health issues can play a role in anything from clinging behavior to cheating behavior. Disorders can impair the ability to interact rationally and fairly with loved ones. Inability to sustain healthy, mutual, relationships can wear away at the self-esteem, creating a downward spiral of mental health. And, when we are already in a low place, we tend to attract and remain in relationships that are less than ideal.
Those of us who need our cup of coffee first thing in the morning are well aware of the concept of brain fog. If coffee is enough to get us up and running at full mental capacity, however, we can count ourselves among the lucky ones. Several mental health disorders are associated with the inability to think clearly and make viable plans toward solving problems. Anxiety-related disorders tend to hijack the thought process, making any considerations – other than those that involve immediate survival – elusive. Depressive disorders can drain away any will to plan for the future and can trap the mind in a cycle of ruminating about the past. A mind consumed with irrational fears, or one stuck in the doldrums, is not one that is ready to move forward with confidence.
If these other areas of concern aren’t enough to motivate you to tend to your mental health, this last factor might spark your interest. Not only does poor mental health make it harder to earn good money and spend it wisely, but failing to do either of those things also increases the likelihood of experiencing mental health problems. Those struggling with mental health issues can find themselves in a vicious cycle, where the financial problems are both created – and sustained – by the mental condition.
For most of us, generating a solid income requires that we have the ability to complete schooling and be able to show up to our job site every day. For those who struggle with mental health disorders, seeing education through to the end, only to follow it up with a sustained commitment to the daily grind, can be a terrifying prospect. Mental health conditions such as depression contribute to a large number of sick days being used, which can negatively impact both grades and promotions. Mental health conditions involving anxiety can mean avoiding moving forward with career opportunities. Severe cases of mental illness can result in needing to rely on the fixed, low, income of state benefits for survival.
Mental Health Problems Can Lead to Substance Abuse
It goes in and out of fashion, but many mental health providers refer to substance abuse as self-medication. The idea behind this concept is that, rather than conceding to the fact that a person is suffering from a mental health problem, he or she will attempt to take the edge off of the problem by treating it with non-prescription drugs or alcohol. While it is true that medications that are prescribed by a doctor are also drugs, the major difference lies in the monitoring of dosage and applicability that a doctor’s prescription provides. Far too many people have fallen into the trap of thinking that they have a handle on their substance use, only to spiral into the consequences of addiction. Once substance abuse has become an addiction, problems in every area of life are compounded.
Signs of Mental Health Problems
While it is important to consult with a mental health professional when seeking a diagnosis of mental health disorder, becoming aware of some of the signs of them is often one of the first steps toward deciding to get help. The following are some of the more obvious symptoms that are related to the most common diagnoses. Use this list as a guideline for discussion during your first mental health appointment.
Symptoms Related to Mood Disorders
Mood disorders refer to an inability to maintain stability in positive and prosocial emotional functioning. Diagnoses in this category include Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. Common symptoms of a mood disorder include sleep pattern disruption; frequent crying spells; rumination on past events; loss of interest in daily activities; social withdrawal; fluctuating energy levels; and impulsive behaviors.
Symptoms Related to Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are currently the most prevalent diagnoses in our society. Anxiety involves experiencing fear of future events, whether real or imagined. Depending on the type of anxiety, symptoms can include avoiding situations; experiencing a sense of doom; insomnia; trouble concentrating; sweating and trembling; increased heart rate; and frequent stomach problems.
So, why is mental health important? Our mental health affects every aspect of life, including relationships, finances, and physical health. If you experience a mental health disorder and find yourself reaching for substances, including alcohol or prescription drugs, you may be susceptible to developing a co-occurring disorder.
Co-occurring disorders create a never-ending cycle in which you self-medicate to numb uncomfortable feelings and eventually develop an addiction. Addiction can lead to additional mental health issues as well as physical issues. If you’re at this point, it’s important to reach out for help and begin your journey to recovery with a trained professional.
For the best results, consider the benefits of an individualized intensive program that offers the support and guidance you need to recover. The Heights Treatment offers a variety of services. Learn more about our IOP Los Angeles facility and IOP Houston facility to get started.