Photo by Nikola Radojcic on Unsplash Summer is just around the corner – that means more time outdoors, barbecues, the beach, and of course, a lot more exposure to the sun. The sun has some great health benefits, like boosting your Vitamin D levels, mood, …
Author: Kristen M. Leccese
A major focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month is “mindfulness”, which means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and present environment. Mindfulness also entails tuning into current emotions without judgment of whether they are “right” or “wrong” in the present …
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Mental health is a topic that’s avoided by most of us. Mental illness can be a difficult subject to address but it’s the area of health that needs to be discussed the most. During the month of May, organizations all over the US aim to raise awareness for Mental Health Awareness Month.
According to statistics, about 31% of those who suffer a mental illness choose not to seek treatment due to fear of being judged.
Stigma is a major issue when it comes to mental illness. The judgment that continues to surround mental health only makes the situation worse. Mental illness is the top cause of hospitalization for both kids and adults ages 18-44 in the US, and mental conditions (especially untreated) raise the risk of serious physical conditions as well. Overall, mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. So, why are we so hesitant to discuss it?
The judgmental attitude towards mental health dates back for centuries. Stigma is largely based on misunderstanding. For example, early beliefs about what we now know as mental illness were based on the idea that mentally ill individuals were possessed by evil spirits or associated with witchcraft. Instead of being treated, they were isolated and exiled from society. Through the years, mental institutions were formed, but they functioned more like prisons, showing little regard to the patient’s quality of life. Treatments were developed, but the medical world believed that these conditions were purely physical and therefore could be treated as other health conditions were treated at the time.
An understanding of the psychological nature of mental illness began to surface during the 19th century, when professionals began to realize there was more to these conditions than just the physical aspects. Sigmund Freud was a major asset in developing mainstream treatment methods. His fascination with the unconscious led to non-physical therapies such as “free association,” where patients were encouraged to openly discuss their emotions. Ideas like these eventually led to more research and more effective treatment options.
Today, mental health conditions are established and recognized just like physical ailments, but even with a plethora of available information, the stigma remains. Maybe it lingers from historic beliefs. Maybe it’s because successful mental illness treatment usually requires several rounds of trial and error. Maybe this is because the brain is such a complicated place. Regardless, it’s clear that stigma is based on a lack of knowledge and understanding. So, the best method of fighting stigma is to educate as many people as possible. There are so many ways that people are trying to raise awareness for mental health. One of the most effective methods seems to be Instagram. As that social media platform is used by so many people, posts can get shared around easily, raising awareness. Hopefully, this method will raise more awareness and reduce the stigma. Take this month to read an article on mental health or share your own knowledge.
Share your story below – In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, if you are a mental illness survivor or know someone battling mental illness, what are some stigmas that you have heard? What do you normally do or say when you hear someone speaking negatively about mental health stigmas?
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A new study designed to assess the connection between weight and dementia risk found that a little extra weight may actually protect you from developing this condition.
The study, recently published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, looked at medical records of almost 2 million individuals to learn more about the link between weight and dementia. The researchers found those who were underweight throughout middle age had a 34% increased risk in the future, compared to those who were at a normal weight or overweight. This heightened risk remained for 15 years after the participants weighed in below the average. Furthermore, the results suggest that the risk may even decrease for those who are overweight or even obese – participants classified as severely obese actually showed a 29% decreased risk of dementia.
Dr. Nawab Qizilbash from OXON Epidemiology, lead study author, stated that these results remained true even after the team looked at other risk factors for dementia, such as smoking, alcohol and genetics. He also expressed anticipation that these results may lead to more effective dementia treatment: “Our results open up an intriguing new avenue in the search for protective factors – if we can understand why people with a high BMI have a reduced risk of dementia, it’s possible that further down the line, researchers might be able to use these insights to develop new treatments for dementia.”
Source: Medical News Today