Why do we never prioritize mental health
It took me two burnouts and one pandemic to seek help. During my first burnout, I was convinced it was not a thing and it will pass the moment I switch jobs. My example is not an exception — our overall mental health is measurably poor.
Here’s just one data point: World Health Organisation estimates depression levels at 5% of the adult population. So how come we as a society are obsessed with fitness and never “miss leg day” but barely can take care of any aspects of our emotional lives?
First, What’s Normal and What’s Healthy?
You might suspect that crying 3 times a day or scrolling Instagram until your finger hurts is not healthy, but everybody else seems even worse off. As long as we’re all in it together, it’s normal.
There Are Plenty of Ways To Feel Better, Quickly
Once you realize you’re not well, there are easy ways to deal with, without dealing with it. Instead of facing your issues (feeling anxious, sad or angry all the time are all issues), you get distracted and comforted with always-there, socially acceptable quick fixes.
To name a few: shopping, alcohol, Netflix, and social media will make you (temporarily) feel good. Not only are most of them socially acceptable, they are also socially encouraged. Talking about binge-watching a Netflix show at work will get you supporting head nods, talking about meditation — shoulder shrugs.
Mental Health Is Invisible
Pictures of shirtless men in media motivate you to take care of your abs or run a marathon. But where can you find inspiring examples of mental wellbeing? People who have this trait are likely to be at odds with traditional and social media, and psychological wellbeing is literally invisible.
This brings the next point.
It’s Hard To Track Progress (or Regress)
Let your diet and exercise routine slide for a couple of weeks and you’ll get clear signals like your cloth is suddenly one size too small.
But if your informational diet consists of Facebook and Twitter for 8 hours a day, for months in a row, you won’t be able to tell a difference. Did you get less focused, calm, and mindful? Would you have noticed arriving at a state where a goldfish has officially longer attention span than you do?
Therapy Is Disapproved
The level of discouragement you get from your friends and family for getting into therapy depends on where you’re coming from. Where I’m from, mental health is not a thing. Therapy is perceived as a waste of time and money for spoiled rich people with nothing better to do. In other places, it is also viewed as a clear sign of weakness — strong people don’t do it.
Seeking help makes you feel guilty about all these and presumably the fact that you can’t take care of your own life.
It’s Not As Bad as It Sounds
Bad news, there are plenty of obstacles on the path to getting better. The good news, some of them are in your control.
Changing how society views therapy might be too much to start with. Acknowledging mental health is as important as physical health and making it a priority is the perfect first step.