Mental health is usually a topic that is not taken into consideration. Many don’t know what mental health is or what it means to have a mental illness. So, what is mental health and how does it affect us as individuals?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes mental health as our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. According to the CDC our mental health determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.

Mental illnesses as stated by the CDC are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feelings, mood, and behaviors, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. According to research done in 2007 by the World Psychiatry, a peer-review medical journal, more than 50 percent of adults will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.

It is important to recognize that mental health and mental illnesses are not the same thing. Although, an individual can have poor mental health it does not mean that the individual will have a mental illness.

So why is mental health such a taboo concept and why do people tend to ignore it? states “Mental health conditions are classed as a hidden disability because the symptoms are not immediately obvious to the outside world.”

Mental health is not something you can immediately see that people struggle with. It's not a physical disability where you can see people struggle on a day-to-day basis. People are generally good at hiding what they feel. As states “Many people with depression and anxiety learn to camouflage and hide the behaviors that might inform people of their true state.”

The fear of being perceived as weak is another reason why people don't talk about mental health. According to this factor is mostly seen in men because men feel pressure to live up to a stereotype of strong masculinity.

As we witness people struggle with mental health there are several things that we can do to show support. Talking about mental health is one of the ways you can support someone/ a loved one that is struggling with it. It is important to listen and validate their feelings as well.

Listening and compassion goes a long way when dealing with someone with poor mental health. Let them know that you hear them, and you are there to support them. Also encourage them to seek help. Remind them that there is nothing wrong with going to a professional with any health relating concern, including mental health.

If you or a loved one are seeking help concerning your mental health, visit the CDC website for mental health tools and resources.

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