In the United States of America, nearly 1 in 5 adults suffer from some sort of mental illness, that’s 19% of all adults ages 18 and above. Of that 19%, nearly 10% of those adults are millennials struggling with mental illnesses and the majority of that number is female. Mental illness is something that affects so many people but is something that is rarely discussed publicly. Mental health is something that should be taken very seriously because its effects can harm your mind, body and the people around you.
What is a mental illness? Mental illnesses are health conditions that involve your emotions, your way of thinking and your behavior. Most mental illnesses can be associated with your social, professional or family life. While mental health illnesses are very treatable and manageable, some people are afraid to seek help because of the stigma associated with it. Past generations have viewed mental illnesses as a sign of weakness or lack of capability, when in fact it is the mind’s way of telling a person that they need help and they can’t figure everything out on their own. Millennials and Generation Z have made mental illness a very open conversation in recent years, and because of that more people are opening up about what they are dealing with and seeking the help that they need.
Mental health disorders don’t discriminate. No matter your race, religion or how big or small your wallets are you can suffer from some sort of disorder. Big-name celebrities have openly talked about their struggles with mental illnesses. Most recently rapper Big Sean revealed that he took a year off from recording music to address his mental health. He ended his 2018 tour early to focus on his mental health after realizing that his personal relationships were suffering even though on the outside his life looked perfect. Admitting that something is wrong and that you need help is the first step to healing from your issues.
5 of the most common mental health illnesses are:
Anxiety - fear or worrying that does not go away. Also categorized as excessive nervousness or apprehension.
Bipolar Disorder- a brain disorder that causes extreme mood swings. These mood swings can go from extreme highs to extreme lows. They can affect your moods, energy behavior, judgment, etc.
Depression - mood disorder that affects how you feel, think and deal with daily activities.
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) - uncontrollable and/or reoccurring thoughts or behaviors that one feels the urge to repeat over and over.
Eating Disorders - abnormal or disrupted eating habits that negatively affect your health, emotions, and behaviors.
With all the research being conducted, there has been no direct cause for most mental illnesses but it has been determined that a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors play a role in the development of mental health issues. That means that your family history, your mental state and the things around you can factor into the development of mental issues. For millennials, a big concern with the spike in mental health issues is that use of the internet and social media. The rise in the amount of time that children and young adults spend on social media plays a big role in how we depict ourselves and the pressure that we put on ourselves to be successful. For example, a lot of times young people see someone else lifestyle or accomplishments on the internet and compare their lives to that and if their life is not up to par with what they see on the Internet they begin to think they are less than. Social media also puts a lot of pressure on people to look or act a certain way or portray a lifestyle that shows they have it all figured out. Social media can easily cause low-self-esteem, anxiety or depression. This is a huge issue with social media and mental health.
Common Symptoms of Mental Illness
Changes in sleep patterns
Changes in eating patterns
Increased isolation from friends & families
Decreased focus or ability to concentrate
Loss of interest in your favorite activities
Struggles with mental health is nothing to be ashamed of no matter what people may tell you. Let it be known that you are struggling and that you need help. Realizing that you have a problem and seeking help for it makes you stronger than you think. There are many ways to deal with your mental health, whether you have been diagnosed with a mental illness or you just noticed a shift in your day to day thoughts and behaviors.
Talk it out. Seek therapy from a mental health counselor, a religious leader or talk through your emotions with a trusted friend or family member. Sometimes just releasing those feelings can make you feel better.
Do something you enjoy. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or overly anxious, try doing something that brings you joy. A small distraction from thinking can help you calm down and regain your peace of mind.
Breathe. It sounds silly because your breathing even as you are struggling, but sometimes just a few deep breathes and some peace and quiet can help you regain your focus and call you down. Just sit still, clear your mind and breathe deeply. Inhale the positive and exhale the negative.
Unplug from the world. Social media applies a lot of unnecessary pressure to be great on someone else’s time frame. Take a break from social media. Delete your apps for a few days and focus on your own personal development rather than how someone else is portraying their life on social media.
If you need more information on mental health and resources, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or firstname.lastname@example.org