Dawnies, today is motivation Monday! On Mondays, I typically try to uplift our community. Today is no different, but I do want to bring your attention to something very important.
This week, October 5, 2020 – October 10, 2020, is mental health awareness week. Mental health awareness, as you all know is near and dear to me. I suffer from chemical resistant major depression with a family history of mental illness.
Mental Illness Awareness Week was established in 1990 by Congress to bring awareness to this sometimes taboo subject.
Why is mental health a taboo subject?
Mental health is taboo because many people believe it is fake. Yes, I just said that. There are people who believe certain people are just acting out or wanting a spotlight on them. It’s as if they have no idea how powerful our brain which controls our mind is.
The fear of judgment and discrimination are among several reasons people choose to suffer alone. Many people who experience mental disorders choose not to seek help for it. And then there are the medical coverage issues.
Depending on the insurance coverage you have, it may be difficult to find doctors, counselors, or therapists in your area willing to take your insurance. For example, I have Tricare. You would think because that is military insurance, every doctor and therapist would accept Tricare. No. There are only three psychiatric hospitals within 30 miles of where I live that takes Tricare. When looking for a new psychiatrist four years ago, I had to call 30 doctors before finding one. Most therapists won’t take it either.
That very problem leaves people without professional help. It also leaves people who don’t believe in it to think well, if insurance companies don’t cover it, it must not be a big deal, right? Really? There are many preexisting physical illnesses that will cause certain companies not to cover a person. Cultural stigma is also a problem.
According to the WHO, global burden of mental health is increasing. Around 15% of adults aged 60 and above suffer from a mental disorder. In Singapore, one in seven have experienced a mood, anxiety or alcohol use disorder in their lifetime. In Malaysia, 4.2 million individuals suffer from mental health problems, which indicates a more than two-fold increase in prevalence over the past decade. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, nine million out of more than 250 million people, suffer from depression. Mental health can include anything from dementia to Alzheimer’s to bipolar disorder. They don’t all lead to suicide, but they all warrant some time at the table.
Unlike other physical health issues such as critical illnesses and chronic conditions, current insurance coverage for mental health conditions is limited. Suicides are preventable, experts say, and more must be done to encourage those who are struggling to come forward. If we do not act now, the mental health protection gap is likely to widen, creating an even larger societal and economic risk (Swissre.com, World Mental Health Day, October 2019).
In African American Cultures, sometimes mental illness is referred to as a white man lie. It can be beaten out of you or ridiculed out of you. Men don’t cry or express any emotions, and if you do, you are not a man. It’s getting better but we still have a long ways to go.
What to Remember:
You are not alone. No matter how alone you feel. You are not alone. Knowledge is power. Educate yourself about your illness or about the many mental illnesses out there if you are fortunate not to have one. Learn specific symptoms and behaviors to look out for in yourself and loved ones. Follow your doctor’s/therapist advice. If prescribed medication, take your medication. If side effects are too many or it is not working, let your doctor know immediately. Create a buddy system with at least one other person so you can hold yourself accountable. Lastly, take care of yourself.
If you have to take a mental health day from work because the environment is too stressful, do it. Feed your mind with positive things. That may include reading, writing in your journal, taking a walk, enjoying nature, exercising, watching your favorite movie, etc.
Take Care Dawnies and talk soon.