It seems as though barely a week goes by without some event to mark mental health “awareness”. Some aspects of this awareness take an entire month, others maybe a week, some a day or perhaps a weekend. If the truth be told, that’s a lot of awareness. It’s hard to imagine that there are many of us now who are unaware of mental health.
None of this is to fault the idea of mental health awareness in and of itself, but awareness only gets us so far. For anyone who has a mental illness, just being aware of it is not going to help them a great deal. Yet somehow it can feel like depression, anxiety, and even more complex conditions like OCD and ADHD are seen as personality quirks, not illness. We can’t settle merely for being aware that these conditions exist; in reality, we need to be doing something about them.
Why does mental health get so much talk, and so little action?
It’s fair to say that depression (to take a mental health issue at random) does not behave like a physical health issue such as diabetes. You can’t take a blood test to see if you have a predisposition to depression, nor can you run a check to see if you’re in a particularly acute stage of it. This means you can’t physically address the signs of the condition; unlike an infection, you can’t just take antibiotics until it goes away. Treating any illness is hard – but treating a mental illness is more complicated because it has invisible symptoms.
What are the priorities when dealing with mental health issues?
Any mental health problem can be said to be chronic when it affects a person for more than two weeks. If this is the case, then dealing with the issue should be a matter of talking and seeking to understand the source of, and any aggravating factors in, the condition. Gauging severity is important, too. Naturally, a person who has indicated that they are having thoughts of self-harm will need to be treated with greater urgency; although not everyone who harms themselves will say so beforehand, conversation should be beneficial in marking how extreme the issue is.
Is medication required for all mental health conditions?
Medicating a patient with a mental health issue is something that needs to be addressed with care. Talking therapies are preferred initially, with telehealth recommended for its promptness and versatility. Most conditions do have a pharmaceutical pathway if required, but getting the right prescription can be a matter of trial and error: some patients with depression require several tries before finding what works for them, while those with ADHD may need to consult a doctor before a decision is made on whether stimulant-based medication is advisable.
In truth, mental health is an incredibly complicated matter, and sometimes people are guilty of using cliches such as “it’s better to talk about it” or “we all have our difficult spells”. These comments are common because the issue is so complicated, but the base point we all need to start from is that, if you feel like you are struggling mentally, it is important to talk to a doctor.