Updated: Aug 4, 2020
Mental Health education spreads knowledge to increase mental health literacy, decrease stigma and demystify the topic of mental health. Through education, we can improve our responses to mental health, encourage treatment, and help others through recovery.
Here are some reasons why mental health education is important:
1. Mental Health Issues are common. 1 in 5 adults experiences mental illness. Anxiety and depression are the most common disorders. We mandate emergency training so people can assist in physical health crises- like a heart attack (not that common) while people are more likely to have to talk someone through a mental health issues - like a panic attack.
2. We lack mental health education in our school systems. Our school systems include physical education and health classes, but what about mental health? Schools need to include education on emotions, psychology and mental health in general.
A lack of information leads to a stigmatizing culture. When people are uninformed they make negative assumptions that lead to stigma. Stigma is a pervasive barrier that prevents individuals from engaging in mental health care. Educational programming demystifies negative stigma and spreads correct information.
Professional help is not always on hand. Many communities are not equipped with adequate mental health resources for the demand of mental health issues. There are many obstacles to mental health treatment, such as insurance conflicts, lack of availability, scheduling process etc. We need to bridge the gap between the everyday community member and professional health care providers. Bystanders with training can respond accordingly and connect individuals to further treatment.
People often don’t know how to respond to mental health. People get weird when you bring up emotions. Our society has perpetuated negative stereotypes that lead individuals with mental health issues to hide their disorders. When people aren’t taught how to respond, they may respond in a way that is not helpful or is insensitive. We need to improve responses to mental health so that those suffering feel comfortable getting help.
People with mental health problems often do not seek help. One of the symptoms of mental health disorders is feeling a lack of motivation to do anything. The last thing a struggling individual wants to do is pick up the phone and make an appointment then consider insurance. The process needs to be simplified. Stigma is a deterrent for many because they don’t want to be judged or categorized as needing help or having a mental health issues.
Suicide rates have been steadily increasing and these deaths are preventable. Mental Health issues are not tangible, but they are very real. These complex emotional issues are taking casualties and these are life or death issues. We need to improve our responses to mental health, so individuals feel encouraged and empowered to get the help they need. Suicide is not the answer and the only way to prevent it is to normalize mental health and emphasize that recovery is possible.
Our school systems are in need of mental health reform. In order to prioritize mental health on an equivalent level to physical health, we must include it in our institutions, policies and communities. Mental health issues can cause a significant amount of disability on one's life, work and ability to carry out daily activities. Educational programming is the best way to inform the future about mental health issues.