This article is heavily researched, but it is written by two high school students. We are not qualified to diagnose anyone nor are we encouraging self diagnosis. The following is based on our personal experiences and perspectives. We are in no way attempting to substitute medical professionals. We encourage the use of psychologists, therapists, and social workers. There is no shame in seeking professional help.
Welcome readers! My name is Kelly Lopez and I’m currently a high school senior. My name is Aliya Dhanji and I am also a high school senior. We are the co-founders of Timpi Blog. We are very excited to begin this blogging journey with you all.
As the first article of our Mental Health Series, we want to discuss the importance of mental health. So, what is mental health? Mental health is a broad topic that can be defined in many ways, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices” (MentalHealth.gov).
It is important to understand that each person experiences the emotional, physical, and mental aspects of mental health differently. The emphasis that is directed towards being physically healthy should be equally aimed toward caring for one’s mental health. So we have constant doctor checkups to address our physical health, shouldn’t we do the same to maintain our mental health?
As corny as it sounds, our mental health is like a roller coaster with ups and downs. We all have moments where we feel stress, anxiety, guilt, disappointment, isolation, and sadness but what is important is how we deal with those emotions. Living a happy, healthy life all begins with the right state of mind and attitude.
About a year ago, I had spent many hours practicing for a presentation that I had for class. When presentation day came, nothing went as planned. There was an unexpected interruption which led me to forget to discuss some important points that I wanted to emphasize. Regardless, I tried to focus as much as possible and finish my presentation. When it was over, I felt disappointed and upset at myself. After having spent so much time practicing, I let myself down. This was an important presentation which would determine if I got credit for the class. After an entire day of being upset with myself, I took a moment to reflect once more. I reminded myself that I put my all into this presentation, but it did not go as I had imagined due to events that were beyond my control.
The constant self-affirmation that I did everything in my power to successfully present my project helped me overcome my feelings of guilt and disappointment. I learned that I had to create a balance between recognizing that my emotions were valid, but also remembering that what happened was out of my control. For others in similar situations, they relieve that frustration by talking it out with someone (therapist, close friend, family member, significant other, etc.) or even journaling about it.
When negative emotions become severe and consistent, they can interfere with someone’s daily life and their physical health. These persistent negative emotions are what can become mental illnesses or disorders.
There are many different kinds of mental illnesses and they affect each individual differently. “A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior or mood.” (Nami.org). There tends to be shame or embarrassment when conversations about having mental illnesses arise. It is important to know that mental illnesses are very common and there are plenty of resources to help you through them. In the United States alone, 46.4% of adults end up experiencing a mental illness during their lifetime (MentalHealthFirstAid.org).
Since it would be difficult to discuss every mental disorder that exists, we will discuss some basic information that everyone should know about mental illnesses:
- Though there tends to be a negative stigma towards having mental illnesses, it is more common than we may realize. “1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness” (www.nami.org)
- Mental illnesses are not character flaws. They are often caused by someone’s biological and environmental factors. “Many factors can lead to mental illness, including genetics, physical illness or injury, and traumatic life experiences” (dworakpeck.usc.edu).
- Studies have shown that mental illness symptoms tend to reduce when people receive treatment, but most people avoid seeking therapy or any form of treatment. “70-90% of people who seek proper treatment for mental health disorders witness a significant reduction in symptoms” “Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental illnesses receive treatment” (dworakpeck.usc.edu).
- Mental reframing is a technique we can use in our daily lives that can help us cope with mental illnesses.
- Most people living with mental illnesses lead productive lives and accomplish their goals despite their challenges.
Getting Help on a Budget
Many mental disorders are treated with prescriptions as well as with therapy. Unfortunately, therapy tends to be expensive. We have provided a list of articles with suggestions on more affordable options for getting help.
https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov (link for federally funded health center for people without health care)
https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/7-ways-seek-therapy-without-breaking-bank (saving money while getting help)
http://careforyourmind.org/what-to-do-when-you-cant-afford-therapy/#more-1447 (more advice for getting help on a budget)
Books About Mental Health / Dealing with Mental Illnesses
“Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple” by Seth J Gillihan https://www.target.com/p/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-made-simple-by-seth-j-gillihan-paperback/-/A-53592782?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df_free_online&CPNG=Entertainment&adgroup=248-23
The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives by Iresha Picot https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-color-of-hope-iresha-picot-med/1134241814?ean=9781514273487
“Be Calm: Proven Techniques to Stop Anxiety Now” by Jill P. Weber https://www.audiobooksnow.com/audiobooks/be-calm/3053822/
Soothe Your Nerves: The Black Woman’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic, and Fear by Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/soothe-your-nerves-angela-neal-barnett/1100368679?ean=9781451603637
“The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris https://www.ebay.com/i/133438471991?chn=ps
Resources for a Better Understanding of Depression
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/depression (video with people talking about their experience with depression, different symptoms, causes, etc.)
Resources for a Better Understanding of Bipolar disorder
https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder (short video with symptoms and further information)
Resources for a Better Understanding of Anxiety Disorder
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/anxiety-disorders (article about different types of anxiety and symptoms)
http://teenmentalhealth.org/mental-disorders/generalized-anxiety-disorder/ (generalized anxiety disorder)