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Recognizing the Signs: Improving Mental Health Awareness


Recognizing the Signs: Improving Mental Health Awareness

Did you know that one in eight people across the globe grapple with mental health conditions every day? Despite this large number, it can still be difficult for people to get the help and support they need because mental health issues are often seen as a weakness or failure. In this article, we’ll talk about mental health to help remove the stigma, particularly in the workplace.

NOTE: Please keep in mind that this article and EasyLlama’s Mental Wellness trainings do not provide medical advice or opinion — they are for educational purposes only. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your mental health. If you're in crisis and need immediate assistance, please call a crisis hotline for help; in the U.S., you can dial 988 to reach the national crisis hotline.

Exploring Mental Health Awareness

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated nine hundred seventy million people worldwide live with mental illnesses, the most common of which are anxiety and depression. These mental health concerns are often stigmatized, so we don't talk about them. And that just contributes to the stigma even more. In EasyLlama’s Mental Health and Well-Being training, we do our part to break that stigma by discussing our mental health, dispelling common misconceptions, and highlighting signs of struggle to watch out for.

First, what is mental health? In general, it includes thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and ability to cope with the ups and downs of life. Good mental health means someone can function effectively in daily life, have positive relationships, and adapt to stress and challenges. But good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental illness — it's a state of overall wellness with a sense of purpose, fulfillment, and resilience.

Common Mental Health Concerns

There are a number of mental illnesses that may affect an individual’s well-being. Anxiety is characterized by overwhelming worry and fear that can significantly disrupt daily life. Depression entails persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, often leading to a loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities. Bipolar disorder involves experiencing alternating periods of high energy and depressive moods. PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) encompasses distressing symptoms that arise following a traumatic event. Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) results in ongoing emotional and psychological struggles, typically stemming from repeated traumas.

Schizophrenia disrupts an individual's thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, often leading to challenges in interpreting reality. Eating disorders manifest as unhealthy relationships with food, frequently connected to body image and weight concerns. Conduct-Dissocial Disorder is characterized by persistent patterns of aggressive, antisocial behavior and a disregard for the rights of others and societal norms.

Stigmas Surrounding Mental Wellness

The stigmas surrounding mental health remain a pervasive and concerning societal issue. The World Health Organization estimates that, at most, only a third of people living with major depressive disorders get formal treatment, partly due to stigma around mental health. Despite growing awareness and efforts to promote understanding, individuals grappling with mental health conditions still face judgment, prejudice, and misconceptions. These stigmas often stem from a lack of knowledge and perpetuate harmful stereotypes, leading to feelings of shame, isolation, and reluctance to seek help.

The misconception that mental health challenges are a sign of personal weakness further compounds these stigmas, discouraging open conversations and hindering the path to recovery. Stigmatizing language and attitudes prevents individuals from accessing necessary support and contributes to disparities in healthcare and employment opportunities. Mental health issues can affect anyone. Experiencing them doesn't mean you're weak or a failure. In fact, it can take a lot of strength to address and manage a mental illness, and getting help is a proactive step toward better well-being.

Signs of Mental Health Issues

Signs of mental health issues can be divided into three categories: emotional, physical, and behavioral. Emotional signs can include intense or persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, fear, irritability, hopelessness, or emptiness. Mental and physical health are closely interconnected, meaning that prolonged emotional distress can lead to physical symptoms such as frequent headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, changes in appetite, or even unexplained aches and pains.

Behavioral signs are changes in a person's actions and conduct. These signs can provide clues to the mental well-being of yourself or your employees. Behavioral signs may include withdrawal from social activities, isolation, changes in sleep patterns (such as insomnia or excessive sleeping), altered eating habits arising from increased anxiety or shame around food, restlessness, agitation, self-destructive behaviors (like self-harm), substance abuse, or frequent difficulty concentrating. Although these are some of the most common signs of a mental health concern, it’s important to remember that many individuals may suffer inside without showing obvious signs. Open communication among friends, family, and in the workplace is essential to get yourself or someone else's help.

Finding the Right Mental Health Treatment

Mental health conditions are complex and usually require professional treatment and support. As with physical health, with proper care, therapy, and treatment, many people recover or learn to manage their conditions effectively, including lifelong conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Each person's experience is unique, so their treatment plan will also be individual. What works for some people may not work for others.

It’s also important to remember that mental health symptoms and conditions range from more to less severe, and even though sometimes mental health issues cause physical symptoms, sometimes physical illnesses are misdiagnosed as mental illnesses. Whether a diagnosis is mental or physical, patient advocacy is always important. Getting a correct mental (or physical) health diagnosis can take time, so the bottom line is that mental and physical health are complicated because each person and condition is different. Whether you're looking to support yourself or a friend or colleague, remember that the journey to mental well-being can be long.

Getting Help with Mental Health Training

We’ve talked a lot about the stigmas surrounding mental health, but you can be part of the solution by encouraging your friends, family, and colleagues to seek help when needed and paying attention to any emotional, behavioral, and physical changes in yourself. With EasyLlama’s Mental Health and Well-Being trainings, employees will learn the definition of mental health, common misconceptions about mental health, and the importance of reducing the stigma of mental health care.

Using interactive quizzes and real-life video scenarios, we can help you and your employees better understand factors related to mental well-being and potential signs of a mental health condition. Employers who support the mental well-being of their employees foster a positive work environment, boost productivity, and demonstrate a commitment to staff well-being. Join the 7,000+ companies using EasyLlama training to improve workplace culture by accessing your free course preview today!

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