You're not Crazy, You're Stressed Out.

As we examine Mental Health in this country, it is important we understand what makes up our Mental Health and how it is defined. I had an advocate, IG: @ellaspeakz who made a very valid point yesterday stating the “The stigmatization of mental illness has simultaneously stigmatized Mental Health.” Do you know why? Because we associate BOTH with being CRAZY. I pretty much have beaten everyone over the head about this, YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. Mental Health is actually how deal with day-to-day life stressors, and how we take care of our mind. It is equivalent to our Physical health, how we take care of our body and they both work together. Mental Illness is the collection of diagnosable conditions that alter mood, thinking or behaviors equivalent to Medical conditions.

 

MENTAL HEALTH/MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE CRAZY.

MENTAL HEALTH IS HOW WE DEAL WITH DAY TO DAY LIFE STRESSORS.

 

Now….

In the field, we often look at psychosocial stressors to examine how a person is interacting with their social environments. Psycho-meaning human behavior, Social- meaning our social interactions. Ultimately, how social interactions affect our behavior. A couple of psychosocial stressors include domestic issues, legal issues, housing, finances, substance abuse and medical issues. It is of my theory that we as a society are STRESSED out to the max. These stressors are the culprits in that, some we can control some we cannot. I highlighted statistics below from these psychosocial stressors that affect our Mental Health and ultimately can lead to Mental Illness. Working in the field and numerous settings, I have seen more issues with these stressors below than those with a mental illness.

Check out these statistics:

Domestic: The average Divorce Rate in America is 40-50%, meaning we get married, and then eventually we get tired of one another, infidelity, issues with finances, we split. Divorce can be expensive, nasty and cause rifts in families especially when children are involved.

Legal: Our prison systems are grossly over-populated estimating about 2.3 million people being incarcerated. One in five are drug related offenses. An estimated 3.7 million people are on probation, with an extremely high recidivism rate of 44% for those leaving prison. We know the justice system needs an overhaul and costs an extreme amount of money to operate per inmate. Because of mass incarceration, families are torn apart, children are affected and inmates are stripped of their rights as a citizen making it difficult to re-enter into society and be a productive citizen. Its effect has never proven to be fruitful and ultimately has shaped the mental health of those in the system and affected by it.

Housing: There is a crisis for affordable housing, where minimum wage and working close to 80 hours a week will not cover rent in majority of areas in America. As a result, 553,742 people are homeless in America on any given night (endhomelessness.org). Food, shelter and safety are basic necessities needed in order to survive. When these hierarchy of needs are compromised, it increases the risk of mental health issues. Quality of life is improved when these things are intact or stable and when they are not, it affects us tremendously.

Financial:  Probably one of the most important stressors that affects our Mental Health is finances, especially after the Recession hit. About 49% of the US is living paycheck to paycheck, with 80% of Full-time workers according to CareerBuilder doing the same. Motley Fool reports that 80.95% of Baby Boomers are in debt, 79.9% of Gen Xers are in debt, and 81.5% of Millennials are in debt. This means we are working but not saving, and really do not have enough to cover financial emergencies. With that being said, a tremendous stressor in collaboration is student loan debt. As it slows down our contribution to the economy, meaning less of buying homes and starting families and more of staying at home with parents and waiting to start families. We also have 15% of the population in poverty, so with everything mentioned above, it shows how stressed we really are.

Substance Abuse: We know about the opioid epidemic plaguing the country, which most of it correlated to our physical health. Over 7 million people in the US battled a drug addiction in 2014, according to Drug Addiction Center. Nearly half who deal with a mental illness have a co-occurring disorder equating to about 22 million people. We often see those using substances to help cope with underlying mental health symptoms and/or mental illness. We see often that individuals use substances to help cope with the above stressors, attempting to find a way to alleviate stressful situations. These things affect our Mental Health; we are not crazy, we are a stressed people.

Medical: Medical issues/conditions can be two-fold. I look at it through the psychosocial lense, because how closely related physical health and mental health is. As a start, 27 million people continue to be uninsured in the US even after Obamacare, meaning access to medical care is still a significant issue.

Look at the Top 10 leading causes of death.

Top 10 leading causes of Death right now in the US (via Medical News today)

1.       Heart Disease

2.       Cancer

3.       Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease

4.       Accidents

5.       Stroke

6.       Alzheimer’s

7.       Diabetes

8.       Influenza and pneumonia

9.       Kidney Disease

10.   Suicide

It is scary how Suicide has crept into the 10th leading cause of death with all of the major medical conditions. Everything on this list can be attributed to stress in some form or fashion. Outside of hereditary components and family history, which pre-disposes you to certain medical conditions, the same holds true for Mental Illness and Mental. Stress affects our Mental Health and Physical Health and then they both affect one another. With a society that praises hard work more than rest, it’s no wonder we deal with so much stress on a daily basis and our Mental Health is suffering.

 

 

Because of everything I have mentioned, I am of the belief that this is why we cannot get a grasp on Mental Health nor Mental Illness. We do not even understand why we are so stressed out, yet data shows the multiple stressors we are dealing with on a daily basis. The problem that exist is we do not equate these stressors to our Mental Health. We only see it as normal everyday issues that we all face and need to get through in order to be a successful adult. However, it is quite the opposite as these stressors are the reason why our Mental Health is suffering and the way we react to these stressors are passed down to the next generation and then the next until a generation creating a cycle that does not understand how to properly manage our stressors.

 

It’s up to us to be educated about our Mental Health and find healthy ways to manage our daily stressors.  That is one of the many ways, we lead and live a happier life.

 

Gary Taylor