Recently, there’s been a lot put on hold. Your mental health is one thing that shouldn’t be. Here are seven reasons to be kind to your mind today.
1.) Beat the Social Virus Known as Stigma
If you or a loved is struggling with mental health, you are not alone. Seeking early intervention for mental health conditions helps beat the stigma surrounding mental illness. For the one in five Americans living with mental health conditions, stigma reinforces negative attitudes, shame and isolation which can prevent them from finding the caring, integrated support that they need.
This Mental Health Month, squashing stigma with compassion, empathy and understanding is more important than ever as we all face the changing COVID-19 landscape together. Often, people are unaware of what they’re doing to pass stigma along, especially if their words and actions come from everything that they’ve heard about mental illness from childhood. However, it is essential to recognize that mental health is as important as physical health. If you or a loved one is struggling, understand that mental health conditions and addictions are legitimate medical problems, just like heart disease or diabetes, which deserve timely and evidence-based care.
2.) Seek Help Early for Better, Longer-Lasting Outcomes
We all know the importance of prevention and early intervention when it comes to physical illness. Routine checkups, screenings and general awareness is essential to catching a disease early and increasing the chances of recovery. The same is true for mental and behavioral health. When people wait to access mental health care, it can be costly.
Just like you wouldn’t wait to treat a broken arm, it’s also important to seek early treatment for mental illness to prevent your symptoms from lasting longer or getting worse over time. It can be really hard to take the first step in recognizing an illness and addressing it, but research has shown that time is of the essence. Research on depression, schizophrenia, alcohol and drug abuse, and many other mental health conditions, has shown stark differences in outcomes depending on how quickly a person began treatment.
3.) Avoid the Social and Physical Consequences of Untreated Mental Illness
Mental illness doesn’t just affect a person’s mood, it also affects their social relationships and physical wellbeing. When people wait to access mental health care, it can have a negative influence on a range of important social factors including their education, employment, safety and relationships. If left untreated, mental health conditions can play a role in loss of friendships, break-ups, family disputes, unemployment or even school attrition.
Seeking treatment early can have a huge positive impact not just on our emotional, but also our physical wellbeing. People with serious mental health conditions are at a higher risk of experiencing chronic physical conditions like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, cancer and asthma. Conversely, positive emotions can improve physical wellness, increase longevity and promote healthy behaviors.
4.) Identify the Best Provider and Treatment for You
By seeking treatment early, it is easier to make informed choices about the type of treatment and provider you need. There are several types of therapies, medications and other treatments, like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), for mental illness. Although information is not as widespread as it should be, for each mental health condition, there are certain treatments, or combinations of treatments, that have been well-researched and offer the best chance of entering full remission.
When individuals wait to seek treatment, it can make the recovery process more difficult and lengthy partly, because identifying the best provider and treatment is extra challenging while managing additional symptoms or more severe symptoms. So, if you or a loved one is living with a mental health condition, it is helpful to start the treatment process early for ample time to education yourself about your treatment options.
5.) Explore Convenient Telehealth Options (There are More Now Than Ever Before)
Each year, over three million Americans do not receive medical care due to a lack of transportation, and transportation issues are cited as the third most common barrier to healthcare access. During this unprecedented time, there are more telehealth options available than ever before. Telehealth can close the transportation disparity gap by delivering virtual healthcare services directly to the patient at home.
With telepsychiatry and other virtual mental health options, receiving care is also more timely, cost-effective and less dependent on location. With telemedicine, patients skip the commute and the waiting room which can also save on cost. In many cases, telemedicine is also more cost-effective by increasing access to providers who accept insurance or to those who offer services on a sliding scale.
6.) Improve Your Quality of Life
In addition to improved mental health, early mental health treatment can lead to other benefits as well. Studies have shown that seeking early mental health intervention can actually increase overall self-esteem and motivation. For many, there is a sense of pride in identifying the right resources at the right time, and often this accomplishment can serve as motivation to successfully address other challenges in life.
Good mental health can also positively physical health by improving sleeping habits, boosting immunity and reducing pain levels. Having your mental health treated can also improve your productivity, allowing you to focus on daily tasks and give you the motivation to get things done in a timely manner.
7.) Enjoy a Longer, Healthier Life
While many mental health disorders are considered chronic, they can enter full remission with the proper care. One of the biggest risks of untreated mental health problems is the risk for relapse. Receiving intervention when a mental health concern is still new or minor, improves your long-term mental health can even extend your life expectancy.
Seeking early treatment for mental health conditions is also essential to long-term wellbeing. From medication to therapy to neuromodulatory treatments, there is a range of safe, highly-effective and compassionate treatment options available which can significantly improve long-term quality of life. If you or a loved one is living with mental illness, consider making the first step towards treatment today.