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Mental Health Is Just as Important as Physical Health: Here's Why

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October 10 is World Mental Health Day. Why should that matter to you?

Somebody dies by taking their own life every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Approximately one in four adults deal with mental health issues at some point in their lives, but many receive little to no help during emergency situations.2

When people experience physical health difficulties, they will generally go for help, and be offered physical care. But things are not so straightforward in the area of mental health.2

Here is why you should care that October 10 is World Mental Health Day:

1) Being mentally healthy is good for your physical health.

The Rhode Island Psychological Association notes a connection between anxiety and the immune system. Stress can decrease the immune system’s strength, which makes us more vulnerable to a variety of sicknesses, from the flu to cancer.4

According to the Mental Health Foundation, depression has been linked with a 67 percent increased risk of death from heart disease and 50 percent increased risk of death from cancer. Schizophrenia is linked to a doubled risk of death from heart disease and tripled risk of death from respiratory disease.5 Excessive anxiety can also lead to heart disease, ulcers and colitis.4

2) Strong relationships are founded on strong mental health.

People dealing with depression often experience dissatisfaction with family, work and being social.9 Furthermore, depression can lead to a loss of the desire for successful relationships and the ability to maintain them.9

Making sure our brains are under control is key for healthy relationships. It allows us to make good life choices, handle life’s curve balls, and go after our life goals.4 You can’t be there for others if you aren’t there for yourself first. Life is hard. Let’s make sure our brains are prepared.

3) Expressing and being in touch with your emotions are essential to mental health.

It's important to show your emotions. Guys in particular are often told to man up if they cry, while girls are often dismissed as crazy when they are expressive. Such cultural expectations are gender-based and not helpful to those whose feelings don't fit the stereotypes. These trends are toxic and contribute to the shaming of those who struggle with mental health issues.

A study published in Health Psychology indicated that people who use repression as a coping method for emotional problems are at higher risk for suffering from various diseases, especially cancer and hypertension.

You don’t have to be embarrassed by your anger or sadness. It’s healthy to cry. Life is tough and we shouldn’t be expected to keep it all bottled up. We are humans, not robots.

Yesterday my friend told me that a boy at her little sister’s high school threatened on social media to come to school the next day with a gun. He was angry about being bullied and wanted to shoot those that were not kind to him. Being tormented can take an extreme toll one one’s brain. How awful is it that this boy thought the best way to deal with his anger was by murder?

Throughout history, lobotomies and electroshock treatments were performed on people with mental health problems — and not that long ago. We look back now on these methods in disbelief. There obviously has been progress regarding mental health, but so many fall through the cracks.

Why does one person die by suicide every 16.2 minutes?8

Why do we applaud the students that pull all-nighters and live in a state of exhaustion? Why do people resort to drugs and alcohol to numb their pain? Exhaustion and faux happiness should not be glamorized.

We all need to get away from things for a bit sometimes , maybe have a fun night out. But when this becomes a pattern, and turns into a way of escaping reality, it’s crucial that you realize that this is unhealthy.

The ability to deal with your world, your thoughts, and your feelings are as vital to your existence as having a heart that pumps blood. Whether you need to vent about a bad day or figure out why you haven’t felt happy in months, please don’t be afraid to tell someone. You are not alone.

Have you asked yourself if you should look for some assistance with mental health problems? You don't have to keep wondering. Check out what the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has to say about possible symptoms and behaviors.

Read more about World Mental Health Day here.

Reviewed October 10, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Read more in Being HER

1) World Mental Health Day. World Federation for Mental Health. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
http://wfmh.com/index.php/world-mental-health-day

2) Dignity in Mental Health: Psychological & Mental Health First Aid for All. World Federation for Mental Health. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
http://wfmh.com/reports/2016-07%20WFMH%20DIGNITY%20IN%20MENTAL%20HEALTH.pdf

3) The Relationship Between Mental and Physical health. Psych Central. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-relationship-between-mental-and-physical-health

4) Useful Psychology Information: Importance of Mental Health. Rhode Island Psychological Association. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
http://www.ripsych.org/importance-of-mental-health

5) Physical health and mental health. Mental Health Foundation. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/physical-health-and-mental-health

6) What Is Mental Health? Mentalhealth.gov. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health

7) The cost of repression: A meta-analysis on the relation between repressive coping and somatic diseases. Health Psychology. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2011-25900-001

8) 11 Fact About Suicide. DoSomething.org. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-suicide

9) Overcoming depression- counseling and therapy. Clinical-depression.co.uk. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
http://www.clinical-depression.co.uk/dlp/treating-depression/overcoming-depression-counseling-and-therapy

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Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I'd like everyone out there to know that shock "treatments" is still very much alive and well and on the rise. I am one of those that testified to the FDA this year about the harms done to me by electroshock and subsequent cover-up or that harm. This so-called scientific method is not safe nor effective, damages brain cells and can result in permanent disability. Don't be fooled, it's still happening!

October 28, 2016 - 7:43am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

I appreciate you  bringing this to our attention, and thank you for testifying. This is definitely something that more people need to know about. 

November 1, 2016 - 9:18am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.