Mental health can be defined many ways, and be seen as less or more important in someone’s life based on their beliefs and experiences. Mental health is what defines our lives, our emotions, physiological, and social well-being. It is how we relate to others, handle stress, and make choices. It is important in every aspect of our lives. There are many ways it can be affected, such as biological factors, like genes or brain chemistry, life experiences, such as trauma or abuse, or a family history of mental health problems (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services).
Mental health is such a big deal, and needs to be talked about much more than it is already. If our brains are not healthy, how can the rest of our bodies be? Today, teens are under constant pressure, whether it be from social media, school, home life, or all of the above. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, but it’s when those anxiety levels get too high that becomes the issue. It can be harmful when it’s excessive and irrational, and prevents a person from being able to focus. (webMD)
A lot of times, teens feel like they must live feeling those things for the rest of their lives, they do not realize that help is available. Why? Because it is not talked about enough. We are taught to keep things to ourselves, not to bother others with our problems, but if we look a little deeper we can see that each person is fighting their own battle, and we can help one another to make the journey to recovery more bearable and seem less daunting.
Eating disorders also need to be talked about and addressed. People might say things such as, “Well, she doesn’t look like she has an eating disorder!” Well, people don’t look like they have mental health issues, but that doesn’t mean they are not there. Eating disorders are most often seen in young women, although can be seen in teen boys as well. They are severe disturbances in a person’s eating habits. Obsessions with amounts of food, body shape/weight may be signs of an eating disorder, which can affect a physical and mental health.
To combat this issue, we can start by taking notice of others around us, not by being nosy or pressing, but just gently asking that person if they’re alright and making sure they know they can come to you when they need help. Teens and adults need to be educated on signs of depression, eating disorders, and anxiety attacks, as well as knowing how to look for signs that show the person is in need. If you look close enough, the actions of people who are dealing with their mental health will show certain signs that are a silent cry for help, whether they know it or not. In a personal situation, if your friend did not eat their lunch today, do not make a big deal of it, but take note, and if it continues pull them aside quietly and ask how they are feeling. Eating disorders, as unfortunate as it is, are very common, and need to be brought out in the open. You could be saving someone’s life by stepping up and telling an adult you trust, even if your friend does not want you to. Their life is more important than the relationship you might have with them at that time.
We need to talk about it at home more, as well. Sometimes, teens may go to their parents asking for help, but they just say that it’s “all in their head” and they just need to smile more. How does anyone know how another is truly feeling? Teens need to know that there is help, and they will be listened to if they come asking for it. There are many websites and facilities that offer these types of help. To let others know that there are solutions, we could make posters with information, as well as being knowledgeable in these subjects by having individuals who have either gotten themselves out of these situations, or people that are experts come in and talk to classes at school, or set up meeting times for students who might want it. We must not judge one another, after all, your enemy may very well be feeling the same thing you are.