The Danger of Dismissing Mental Health
Updated: Jan 30, 2021
By Noor Darwish
If an auditorium of people were told to close their eyes and think about a person who is the picture of health, most people would imagine a person who is physically healthy and fit, with no regard to their mental status. This is because of the lack of education of the importance of one's mental health. All kinds of health classes from physical to sexual health are taught around the world, but the majority of the time, a major part of health education is forgotten, and this is mental health.
Being physically healthy is something that almost all young children are taught and told to be in and out of schools. Physical health and the importance of it is integrated into people‘s minds from a young age. As we grow up, we continue to learn to take care of our bodies, and make sure to stay fit and healthy. Many schools and parents often neglect to teach their students and/or children mental health education and the importance of taking care of your mind. This leads to many kids and adults not understanding how to deal with their emotions, not knowing if their emotions are healthy, and if they are struggling with mental health issues, to not understand what is “wrong” with them.
So many young kids, adolescents and adults struggle with mental health issues because of stress due to school work, family environments, sports, and external and internal expectations of themselves. Many times these struggles are left unaddressed.
The dismissal of mental health education and mental health issues is problematic and surprising for many reasons. One of those is that 25% of the world's population is affected by mental health issues at some point in their lifetime and 20% of adults in the U.S are currently living with a mental illness, treated or untreated. The lack of public education on the causes, effects, treatments, etc. of mental illnesses contributes to the stigma around it, which further causes people to be uneducated on mental health issues and causes people to not reach out for help. Almost half of all mental illnesses start showing symptoms once a person is 14, and oftentimes the person isn't even aware that what they are feeling is normal, treatable, or supposed to be addressed and discussed. This leads to untreated mental illnesses and causes many students not to reach their full ability, have clouded thoughts, a changed mood, and/or to have a mental health burden.
When a mental illness is untreated, there are many potential dangers. These include but are not limited to; the issue getting worse, and in some cases untreatable, chronic physical issues such as aches and pains around your body, drug and alcohol addiction, self confidence issues, and problems with socialization. If schools were to teach mental health education alongside physical and sexual health, many people would not have to go through unnecessary pain due to untreated mental illnesses.
Mental health awareness is extremely important and a way to start educating people from young ages would be in school. If more people begin to treat mental health as a normal topic of discussion than more people who are struggling will feel more comfortable getting help. The beginning stages of the de-stigmatization of mental health issues has already begun, but if schools help educate people on these issues, then it will be less taboo.