I am very excited to be writing my first blog with The Sensory Path! As a licensed mental health therapist for 20 years (18 in public school system) I see the focus placed on teaching good health all the time to children and adults. However, what about mental health?
We cannot separate our mental health from our overall health. Mental health is health. Think about it this way… if you have diabetes you would go to your doctor to be treated and monitored. If you have chest pains, you may go to the ER or to a heart doctor. If you have high blood pressure you may have to take medicine to help regulate it and prevent a heart attack or stroke. These are important health issues and conditions that need treatment, and most people believe this and respect it. However, when someone is suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. they will ignore it and want to avoid people knowing and many times suffer in silence. This is bad for your health!
These types of mental illnesses are just that, illnesses. They need proper medical diagnosis, treatment, and sometimes medication. There is no shame in this, some of these illnesses can be inherited just like high blood pressure, heart disease, etc. Many times, these mental illnesses if caught and treated early can prevent maladaptive and unhealthy lifestyle choices as well.
There is no shame in needing help with your HEALTH, both physical and mental. Each person has a unique make up of their physical and mental health, and sometimes we become physically ill or become depressed for example. Most people would not hesitate to get themselves or their child to a doctor if they become physically ill. But if you or your child is struggling with a mental health issue, many would avoid going to a doctor to discuss this. Why? Think about why for yourself. Then think about how you see it being different if people didn’t have that stigma about mental health. How many people could get the help they need? How many lives could be saved?
The rising number of suicides is alarming. So many of these people suffered in silence or simply gave up. I will always tell students whom I work with that are feeling this way to remember “it’s a bad day, not a bad life.”
We must teach and spread hope to those who are struggling with mental illness. As long as you are here and don’t give up, things can get better. Help is always available. The change and shift must begin with each one of us. We can all spread the knowledge that Mental Health is HEALTH!