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Explainer: Mental Health


Across the past year and a half, the term “mental health” has been thrown around. With that, it brought both good and bad awareness to the issue of mental health impacting millions, if not billions of people. According to the National Institute of Mental health, one out of every five adults in the United States live with a mental illness. This is over 51 million people in the United States with a diagnosed mental illness. That is not counting the undiagnosed cases in which potentially millions of more people are struggling for various reasons, such as the inability to afford diagnosis or medication.

Mental health is defined as “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.” While this does fit a good portion of cases, this does not apply to everything. There are many factors, and it is not always dependent on only one factor. There are various causes of mental health issues, and not all of it is caused by traumatic events. Most people are unaware of the fact that mental health can be biological, or at least heavily influenced by biological factors. A good example of a biologically caused mental illness is ADHD.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children and adults. While there are environmental factors that can cause ADHD, it is possible to have ADHD genetically. According to the American Psychiatric Association, three out of four children with ADHD also have a relative with ADHD, suggesting it can be carried down genetically. However, 8.8% of children and 4% of adults in America are diagnosed with ADHD, making it surprisingly common. ADHD can be part of a cause of other mental illnesses. It is estimated about two-thirds of children with ADHD have another condition as well. While ADHD isn’t the sole cause of any mental illnesses, it can be a factor in other disorders. 

ADHD is just one factor on mental health. Mental health issues can be caused by the environment around a person. Stressful situations are a frequent cause of one’s mental health to deteriorate. Stressful situations can be things such as financial troubles, death of a loved one, breakups and so much more. Even light amounts of stress can harm a person’s mental health. Traumatic events such as military service or assault can affect mental health in the long term. 

Mental health is not limited to just your brain. It also has the ability to affect your physical health. This can lead to anything from fatigue to digestive system issues. This can also lead to eating disorders, such as Anorexia nervosa or Binge-eating disorder. This can affect weight, either by weight loss to severely abnormal levels or lead to obesity. The short term effects of eating disorders can stretch into long term issues if there is no treatment. 

Untreated mental health can lead to progressively worsening mental illness. This can lead to interference in one’s regular life, such as having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, or to get ready to go to work or school. Society typically does not consider mental health as a valid excuse to be absent, so those who struggle with mental illness have to force themselves to be present even if they are mentally incapable of performing everyday tasks. This cruel treatment of those struggling with mental health can lead to symptoms getting worse. This can lead to a much more serious situation, such as suicide or violent acts. While these aren’t solely mental illness issues, about 75% of women incarcerated for violent acts have serious mental illness, as opposed to 50% of men for the same crimes. 

There are ways to care for one’s own mental health. First off, you should always talk to a trusted friend or adult about your feelings. Maintaining a good diet can also help chemical imbalances, as well as nutrients to keep you healthy. Taking breaks is always good to do to rest yourself mentally. And most importantly, ask for help however you can. There are numerous mental health services at your disposal.

Overall, mental health is necessary to survive. It is important to balance mental health so it doesn’t affect other areas of health, such as your physical health. Mental health is an issue many of us have struggled with throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is perfectly fine to seek help. Keeping track of mental health is one of the most important priorities in anybody’s life. If you ever need help, do not feel afraid to reach out for help to anybody that can help.

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Explainer: Mental Health