Excellent health, including mental wellness, is perhaps the most important asset a person can have. Compared to someone struggling with a mental illness, a healthy individual will be in a better position to have a successful career and enjoy harmonious relationships with friends and family.
Unfortunately, it’s estimated that nearly 53 million Americans live with a mental illness. And for many people suffering from poor mental health, accessing resources can be difficult. The good news is that community organizations and NGOs are stepping up to help those in need.
What Is Mental Health?
It is vital to first understand what is meant when we use the term “mental health.” The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.”
Mental health, we can therefore surmise, is a critical and sweeping influence on how we act, feel, and think. Our mental health will greatly impact family relationships, careers, and day-to-day functioning. When talking about health, many people focus almost entirely on physical well-being. In terms of overall health, however, the CDC notes that physical and mental wellness are equally important.
Mental Wellness and Its Impact on the Whole Family
Experts note that if just one person in a family suffers from mental health issues, it could impact the entire family. Mental health challenges can lead to frightening or dangerous fights, separation, and even estrangement. One study found that if one individual in a married couple suffered from a mental health issue, the risk of divorce greatly increased.
Family relationships can also have a huge impact on mental well-being. One study found that individuals who grew up in a home with positive family relationships were less likely to suffer depression symptoms later in life.
Mental Wellness and Your Career
Mental health will influence essentially every relationship you have. If you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, or other related issues, it could impact your relationships at work, and elsewhere. On the other hand, if your mental health is positive and strong, you may well inspire increased energy around your workplace or home.
The CDC reports that depression can impact an employee’s ability to carry out physical tasks roughly 20 percent of the time. Further, depression can impair cognitive performance approximately 35 percent of the time.
A large number of these employees won’t seek help; they instead try to soldier on, often to the detriment of their careers and their relationships. If you’re not performing at your best, it’s more likely that you will be passed over for a promotion, get released during a layoff, or get fired.
Mental Health Impacts Physical Health
Research has found that depressed individuals are 50 percent more likely to die from cancer—and they are 67 percent more likely to succumb to heart disease. In short, mental illness can shorten a person’s lifespan. A study in Denmark found that those individuals suffering from mental health issues lost 7 to 10 years of their life, dying well before their healthier peers. So, if you enjoy an active lifestyle and strive for good physical health, but ignore your mental well-being, it may be time to reevaluate.
A Community Approach to Mental Health Care
If you strive to enjoy a healthy, happy life, and want your family members to enjoy the same, any or all mental challenges should be addressed. More than 50 percent of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, a great number of people lack access to mental health treatment, or are not aware of what resources are available to them. Some also fear the stigma associated with mental health treatment.
Like physical illnesses, mental illnesses can be treated through a variety of methods and treatments. Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or other talk therapists can often talk you through your issues. Prescription medications, lifestyle changes, and support groups can also help improve one’s level of mental health. There’s no one-size fits all treatment for mental health; each care plan must be uniquely customized to the patient.
If you’re like most people, finding and using the mental health resources already available in your community should go a long way to helping you address your challenges. In turn, this could improve the overall well-being of you and your family. Proper treatment can frequently help people overcome mental challenges, and thus enable them to live more fulfilling lives.
Jewish Family Service offers high-quality counseling and general wellness training to families and individuals of all ages and faiths. To learn more about our services, visit us online or give us a call at 513-469-1188.
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