Mental Health…Do YOU Really Understand?

It is easy to place your own definition on what you think mental health is. It is also very easy to assume incorrectly and misconstrue what it entails. I say this because I used to be dead wrong on what I perceived mental health to be. Growing up in my teens, I viewed mental health as being only the worst conditions. I saw it as people who were psychotic, schizophrenic, and psychopathic. These are true, but mental health has a much wider range than those conditions.


Through enduring my own personal experiences, I grew to understand what mental health truly is. Mental health is any condition regarding a person’s psychological and emotional well-being. Sometimes it can be difficult to grasp just how wide that range is. Mental health encompasses the psychopathic murderer, the young girl who is afraid about her physical appearance, the business man who is emotionally upset over not receiving the promotion, the little boy that gets bullied, the person struggling with suicidal thoughts, and just your everyday teenager or adult attempting to navigate through life’s challenges. And so on and so on. Mental health can involve any person going through any life event that causes emotional and psychological distress.


Everyone experiences seasons of different types of mental health. You may not admit to it or want to hear it, but it is true. Have you ever been irrationally down about yourselfover something that wasn’t that big of a deal? Have you ever been so frustratedto the point where you wanted to lash out at someone? Or maybe self-confidenceis lacking to the point where you turn to derailing other peoples’ emotional states by bullying or shaming?


We all fit somewhere. Every person has either encountered a situation related to mental health temporarily, or has an ongoing mental illness.


I have had my fair share of battles as I suffered with major depression, low self-esteemand suicidal ideationsfor over three years. I had a negative mindset, struggled with self-hatredand fear of how others perceived me. I was in and out of mental hospitals, and spent one full year at a residential treatment center. I have a first-hand experience.


I stated before that I believe the general view on mental health is not fully accurate because we don’t want to admit putting ourselves in a particular category. However, changing our perspectiveas individuals is the first step in improving the mental health problem in America. From this, we will sympathizeand relate to each other more intimately. If we could learn to admit and understand that we all have struggles, some related to mental health, then we will stop excluding one another and start showing more love and compassion. We must start taking ourselves off the pedestal, and grounding ourselveswith one another.


Our perception and exclusion of othersare not the only components hindering our development regarding mental health. The most important aspect in my opinion to mental health is to understand what it is. Because how can you be sympathetic and relate to others if you don’t fully understand what another person is going through?


I want to share some insights with you that will hopefully widen your eyes and open your heart to the millions of people experiencing mental health trauma.


One of my recent speaking events was withThe Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.The organization had me come speak on my personal experiences with mental illness and explain how I was able to navigate through them. Not only did I share my story with the members of their group, but I gained wisdom and knowledge about mental health from them as well. The truth to what is happening regarding mental health in America is staggering and discouraging.


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 44 million people experience mental illness in the United States each year. One in every five teenagers experience a severe mental illness during their teenage years (13-18 years old). Furthermore, adults living with a mental illness die on average 25 years earlier compared to those who don’t.


Suicide is the second leading cause of deathfor young adults between the ages of 15-24. conducted a study at Los Angeles Unified School District and found staggering results. 255 suicidal incidents were reported in 2011. Just five years later in 2016, that number of 255 incidents skyrocketed by 1,860% to 5,000 reported suicidal incidents. Lastly, the report explains that Los Angeles is the 11thlowest major area in the nation for students reporting suicide. This shows that there are many other major areas that have even higher numbers of attempted or committed suicide rates in our country.


These numbers are absolutely baffling to me. There is a major problem in this country regarding mental health. Just think about that. A1,860% increase in suicide ratesin five years…clearly there is something wrong. When I read these numbers, I was shocked, and my heart broke for the masses who are experiencing internal pain. Part of the reason why I am even writing this article, wrote my book, and why I actively speak is to reach those students. I want to help the people who were struggling just like I was.


There is clearly a major gap to fill. There is so much good in this world, and so many great people. The schools, organizations and groups that assist with mental health are essential. However, that does not excuse the problem we have. Clearly, we are not doing enoughto make an impact on the lives of the struggling individuals. Some groups or organizations may understand the problem, they may conduct research, or offer suggestions…but all I know is that I don’t see the statistics changing for the better. Things are getting worse with mental health before they are getting better.


I challenge you to take some time to think deeply about those statistics and details, and how mental health affects so many people worldwide. The scary thing about it is that report was just based on one geographical area in one part of the world about one subject. There are dozens of other segments in mental health that carry staggering and saddening rates like those of suicide. Take those other challenges of mental health and visualize how they affect people across the world, not just in Los Angeles. You can see that mental health is one of the most severe issues we have today.


Not just because of how many people it affects, but more so by what it does. Your psychological and emotional state of mind encompass your thoughts, feelings, and actions. When one is experiencing emotional distress of any kind, that person’s thoughts will be affected negatively. Consequentially, the feelings will take a tumble and gravitate to danger. Unfortunately, the final affect is that person feels so overwhelmed by their thoughts and feelings, that it causes them to act out, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Sometimes a person can be in such a bad state of mind, that they choose to act destructively. It is often driven to where a person cannot controlhis or her actions leading to acts of carelessness and hopelessness.


Whether people act with intention, or lack thereof, we must learn to be mindful of our emotios and mindset. Over 75% of chronic mental illnesses are developed by age 24. This shows how critical it is for people to maturely develop psychologically and emotionally in their childhood and adolescence.


It is understandable that no matter how much one develops, there will always be stressors and problems, whether major or minor. Yet peoplerefrain from treating the problemsand seeking help. Only 41% of adults with a mental health condition sought help in the past year.


That is where you and I come in. We must understand that some people are proactive at getting help, while others are embarrassed or unmotivated. We must take the initiativeto step in despite the circumstances and assist in any way we can. That can be in the form of providing wisdom to the struggling individual. It can be helping them get set up with professionals in the industry such as psychologists and psychiatrists. Or maybe it is as simple as you being the helping hand they need or the friend that they don’t feel they have. You have the capability to change one’s life. Collectively, we must be aware and proactive to help those wrestling with mental health challenges.


I want to capitalize on this because I have lived through it. I was one of the people in the 75% who developed a mental health condition in my teenage years. I was demoralized by depression and hopelessness. I thought my life would never be where it is today, and frankly, thought I would be dead by now. But I chose to navigate the challenges and accept the condition I was in. I learned that I was my own worst enemy by how poorly and selfishly I was thinking. This lead me to gain perspective and confidence on who I was, and which direction my life needed to head towards. Along the way, I learned a great deal about myself, and how my mental illness nearly destroyed me.


As you can see, it is apparent how relevant mental health is. If you have personal experience with mental health or knowledge within this realm, people need your help. People need your words of encouragementand to hear your personal storyon how you overcame challenges. They need to hear it because you may be the only thing keeping them going and the only person giving them hope. I encourage you to break the stigma and exit the bubble. We need to come together and help one another. We need to care, show compassion and love. We need to help that next person not become a statistic. Instead, we need to show them what mental health really is and explain how their life doesn’t need to be dominated by something they can learn to control.



Remember, for every challenge there is beauty on the other side.