Destigmatizing the Current Mental Health Crisis




The Importance of Mental Health and Well-Being


Mental health, defined as a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being, is equally as important as one’s physical health: Poor mental health has been linked to causing or worsening severe chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and asthma. Mental health issues also make it difficult to form relationships, perform well in school, and handle stress, and can even negatively affect one’s decision making. Despite the increasing recognition of the importance of mental health, many neglect to realize that having poor mental health is not the same as having a mental illness, and more work is needed to improve how society approaches mental health issues.



Current Mental Health Situation


After more than a year of isolation, pandemic restrictions, stress, and trauma, mental health in the United States has experienced an evident decline. As of 2022, 38.2 percent of adults are affected by depression, equating to roughly 1 in 3 American adults.


In pediatric patients, or people under 18, the mental health situation has become so concerning that a coalition of leading pediatricians have declared mental health among adolescents a national emergency. Studies have also shown that disruptions in the home during the pandemic have disproportionately affected children of color.


A sobering quote from Dr. Gabrielle Carlson, president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, addresses the crisis we face: “We are caring for young people with soaring rates of depression, anxiety, trauma, loneliness, and suicidality that will have lasting impacts on them, their families, their communities and all of our futures.”



Destigmatizing Mental Health

The stigmatization of people suffering from mental health issues and related treatments is a major factor in people with mental poor mental health struggling to find support in their peers. It also prevents suffering individuals from seeking professional help.


In order to combat the stigmatization of mental health issues, people must speak out against negative stereotypes. Ensuring that everyone feels comfortable addressing their mental health concerns, forming peer support groups, and educating ourselves on mental illness are all steps Americans must take to help our communities appropriately respond to those suffering from the mental health crisis.



Self-Care Tactics


Self-care tactics, such as enjoying regular exercise, eating healthy meals and remaining hydrated, and prioritizing sleep and meditative activities, have become popular methods of improving both physical health and mental well-being.


People can benefit from setting personal goals as well as staying connected to friends and family, especially during periods of emotional difficulty. Although these tactics are not replacements for professional help, they can aid in improving your overall well-being and help you establish healthy habits.



Mental Health Resources


If you find self-coping tactics to be insufficient, many people benefit from seeking professional help. If you are in immediate danger to yourself, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, or 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish. You should also consider reaching out to your school counselor or a trusted adult.



Sources:


2016, July/August. “Destigmatizing Mental Illness Needs a National Push, Report Says.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/07-08/upfront-destigmatizing.


“About Mental Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 June 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm.


“About Mental Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 June 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm.


“Caring for Your Mental Health.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health.


Crawford, Greg, et al. “Depression Rates in US Tripled When the Pandemic First Hit-Now, They're Even Worse.” Boston University, 7 Oct. 2021, https://www.bu.edu/articles/2021/depression-rates-tripled-when-pandemic-first-hit/.


“Mental Health: Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 24 May 2017, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/mental-health/art-20046477.


Nelson, Randi. “An International Crisis: Destigmatizing Mental Health.” ViewPoint Center, 17 May 2020, https://www.viewpointcenter.com/international-crisis-destigmatizing-mental-health/#:~:text=Educate%20yourself%20and%20others%20about,substance%20use%20issue%20from%20people.


“People Seeking Help.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 July 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/tools-resources/individuals/index.htm.


Shivaram, Deepa. “Pediatricians Say the Mental Health Crisis among Kids Has Become a National Emergency.” NPR, NPR, 20 Oct. 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/10/20/1047624943/pediatricians-call-mental-health-crisis-among-kids-a-national-emergency.


Shivaram, Deepa. “Pediatricians Say the Mental Health Crisis among Kids Has Become a National Emergency.” NPR, NPR, 20 Oct. 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/10/20/1047624943/pediatricians-call-mental-health-crisis-among-kids-a-national-emergency.



About the Author:


Harper Lindsay is a rising sophomore student. She was elected as vice president of her sophomore class and has a passion for Model UN and cross country. Harper is the founder of Food For Fidos, a nonprofit organization which contributes to the amount of dog food in Boston food banks, to support people caring for their pets throughout difficult times.