Written by: Lauren Wilson Medical Psychology Center Intern, Endicott College.
We tend to overlook mental illness and associate people that suffer from it as the bad guy. Is this because we hear the word mental illness and think about people sleeping on the streets or people who are in jail? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.
Millions of people are affected by mental illness every day. As a nation, we have paired it with a negative association. Having a mental illness can be frustrating in and of itself, but seeking help can also be embarrassing, because of how our society stigmatizes. Statistically, 1-5 (18.5%) of adults are affected by mental illness, as well as 1 in 5 (21.4%) of children ages 13-18, and 13% of children who are 8-15 are also affected. In the United States, a little more than 50% of the population has a mental illness from severe to mild.
So why are we so hush hush about mental illness? We have this stigma that has been latched on for many centuries now and "People with mental illnesses are crazy" is the new phrase people have been using and can be hurtful. People don’t want to seek treatment because they do not want to be labeled as "crazy" or they don’t want others to know they may have something going on in their lives that is making their daily lives tougher.
It’s time to change that stigma. It’s okay to reach out for help when you need it, everyone does. So many people are just like you. Seeking help is for your benefit and that is important to be a better you.
This movement is called “Time to Change”, a social movement that has been working on ways to help change the way people think and act about mental health. Time to change is website the covers personal stories, topics about mental health, and is a safe place about mental illness. This website prompts the well-being of others and is trying to spread the word to get rid of this stigma.
Written by: Lauren Polzella, Medical Psychology Student Intern, Endicott College
You won’t be a selfish person for taking care of yourself, just a happier one. Self-care is something people often put on the back burner. It has been stereotyped as “selfish” or “self-centered” to put yourself first, but sometimes it is necessary to ensure your well-being.
Self-care is defined as making daily living needs a priority, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, and daily hygiene. However, it is not limited to these alone. Self-care also involves taking time to do the things that nurture and feed your soul. But what happens when even these things aren’t enjoyable anymore? Individuals who struggle with depression often have low motivation for activities and hobbies they used to find enjoyable. Depression can make self-care feel impossible, especially when a person feels tired, listless, and emotionally drained. Depression is associated with the dysfunction of the frontal lobes, which are responsible for executive function. Executive function controls skills in the brain such as problem solving and judgement and reasoning. When an individual is depressed, it is much harder for executive function to work correctly, therefore making it harder for self-care to feel attainable. However, the brain is adaptive and able to make new connections.
Creating a self-care plan is a great way to start rewiring your neural pathways on the path to recovery. Start small. Aim for small goals and recognize the little things each day, even if it's just getting out of bed and getting dressed, or recognizing you have been given another day and taking time to identify three things you are grateful for during that day. These small habits will help to lighten your mood and promote positivity, even if only for a few moments. Then, start to build off these small, daily habits and goals. Find what works for you and what makes you feel your best. Feed your senses. Whether it’s smelling the flowers and fresh air outside, eating one of your favorite foods for some comfort, or taking walks with a loved one; anything that boosts frontal lobe activity will help in the process of recovery. So, find what works best for you and roll with that, you’ll thank yourself later.
And remember - be kinder to yourself. You are important, you are loved, and you aren’t selfish for focusing on bettering yourself.
Serani, D. (2017, February 06). Why self-care is hard for depressed individuals. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/201702/why-self-care-is-hard-depressed-individuals
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