According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, 43.8 million adults in America experience mental health issues in a given year. These millions of people are experiencing an invisible, or hidden, disability.
Hidden disabilities may not be visible to the naked eye, but they still significantly impact the people who have them. Individuals with hidden disabilities often report that people question the legitimacy of the challenges they face because they aren’t obvious. Whereas individuals with visible disabilities commonly face assumptions that they are unable to do certain things, individuals with hidden disabilities often face assumptions that accommodations for them are unnecessary.
Though invisible disabilities and mental health issues don’t have to stand in the way of a full and happy life, success often hinges on the availability and accessibility of resources and treatment options.
NAMI reported that only 41 percent of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received services in the past year. This lack of treatment can result in major consequences.
For example, the same report found that serious mental illness costs the U.S. just over $193 billion in lost earnings per year. Additionally, mood disorders, including major depression and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youths and adults aged 18-44.
Mental health can have a direct impact on other life areas, including educational attainment, sustainable employment, independent living, friendships, physical health and many other areas. In our Tangram Life Coaching services, we often see how unaddressed mental health issues act as barriers to success in these areas, which is further compounded by the stigma attached to mental health in our culture.
Adopting good mental health management practices is a critical first step in building the foundation for overall wellness. In honor of Mental Health Month, here are five tips for achieving and maintaining positive mental health.
- Surround yourself with good people. People with supportive family members and friends are generally healthier than those who lack a support system. If you are struggling to find this, seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as volunteer opportunities, a new hobby or a support group.
- Value your own self-worth. Treat yourself with kindness, respect and grace, avoiding self-critique. Take time to do the things you enjoy and arm yourself with the knowledge that you are doing the best you can.
- Set realistic goals. Decide what matters most to you in life, whether that’s academically, professionally or socially. Write down those goals and include the steps you need to take in order to achieve them. Focus on attainable goals and enjoy the sense of accomplishment you feel after completing them.
- Know your resources. Plenty of mental health resources exist online and in your community. Furthermore, most employers offer an Employee Assistance Program, which may offer free or reduced-cost counseling or therapy, and a plethora of other resources. Colleges and universities also have mental health resources.
- Know your rights. Being informed is the best way to empower yourself in the event that you encounter discrimination.
Maintaining positive mental health is vital in improving your overall wellbeing. Building a trustworthy network of family and friends, taking the time to value yourself and setting attainable goals is critical in the process of achieving a balanced and fulfilling life. It is also important that we work together as a culture to erase the stigma associated with mental health and create a supportive, inclusive community.
More information on mental health supports can be found on the following websites:
National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/
National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml
Mental Health America: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/resources