Today is World Mental Health Day – a day recognized to raise global awareness and acceptance of mental illness.
With rates of depression and suicide on the rise, it’s more important than ever to educate ourselves and others about mental illness.
To learn more, CAWLM spoke with Dr. Prakash Masand M.D., a psychiatrist and founder of the Centers of Psychiatric Excellence.
What is the biggest myth or misconception about mental illness? The biggest myth about mental illness is that people believe they are weak, weird, strange, different or inferior if they have a mental illness. We have a terrible stigma problem around mental illness, and people need to realize that mental health conditions are no different than any other health condition.
How do we help someone we care about better cope and work through their condition? If you are supporting someone who is recovering from a mental health condition, you may not always understand what they are feeling or experiencing – but know that it is very real. Let them know they can confide in you and trust you.
What can we do to improve our own mental health?
- Relieve stress: stress is bad for our physical and mental health. When you feel stress building, stop what you’re doing and calm down. Focus on slowing your breathing, slowing your thoughts and just relax.
- Exercise: Getting plenty of physical activity is great for our physical and mental health. Even just a 15-20 minutes brisk walk can do wonders for your health.
- Don’t be afraid to get help: If you notice that you are losing interest in activities you usually find pleasurable, are feeling hopeless, constantly anxious, having outbursts of anger, are exhibiting signs of obsessive or compulsive behavior, your weight and appetite are changing as are your sleep patterns, get help.
- Don’t just be all work and no play: We all have to work to make money and pay our bills, but don’t spend every minute so worried about work. Make sure you schedule enough time to incorporate fun activities into your calendar.
- Talk about your feelings: Human beings are emotional creatures. Find a close friend or family member you confide in and share your feelings.
- Take a mental health day: Every once in a while, take a day to yourself and do something you thoroughly enjoy. We all need a break once in a while.
Dr. Masand also cautions that if at any time you suspect you or someone you know may be suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.