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Importance of mental health awareness.

Mental health awareness was created as a way to educate the public about mental illness, raise awareness surrounding research and treatments, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and celebrate recovery from mental illness. The cases of mental health conditions are increasing and a vital sign being the alarming rate at which suicide cases are rising. In a report released in 2019 by The World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that 408 people die by suicide yearly in Kenya. This is one of the many reasons why mental health awareness is crucial in the society.

What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a physical illness of the brain that causes disturbances in thinking, behavior, energy or emotion that make it difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of life.

The two most common mental health conditions are:

  • Anxiety Disorder

Types of anxiety disorders include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorders (panic attacks) and specific phobias.

  • Mood Disorder

Mood disorders include depression and bipolar depression which brings about difficulties in regulating one’s mood.

Why mental health awareness;

  1. Helps you recognize and understand mental health symptoms

Majority of the people diagnosed with mental health conditions are not able to detect the symptoms. Symptoms to look out for include; Changes in sleeping pattern, appetite loss, impulsive decision making, turning to alcohol or drugs among others.

  1. Mental health awareness helps break stigma

Mental health awareness opens room for mental illness conversations thus reducing the misconceptions and stigma and can encourage those who are suffering to seek help and support. Reducing stigma around mental health is an important step towards embracing mental wellness.

  1. Helps provide education around mental health

Mental health awareness provides education around mental illnesses, mental health treatment, and mental health care among other mental health resources. This education is also very crucial for caregivers, employers, family members and loved ones to understand the impact that mental health has on daily life.

  1. Promotes mental fitness

It is important to understand that mental health is not solely related to mental illness. The absence of mental illness does not necessarily ensure mental fitness. Mental health awareness helps one understand their current mental state and also provides information on how to maintain a healthy mental state.

Maintaining your mental health and being aware of the signs to watch out for is important now more than ever. Just like we take good care and pay attention to our homes, cars and even work, our minds need to be taken care of. Our bodies give warning signs of deteriorating mental health way before life threatening illnesses creep up.  It is therefore crucial to pay attention and listen to what our bodies tell us.

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