5 sobering facts to reflect upon this mental health awareness week

mental health awareness weekCC: Bryan Apen at Unsplash

Mental health awareness week starts on the second Monday of every May. This year’s theme is body image, with the aim of helping people reflect on how they see their bodies. In an increasingly image-focused society, appearances are often deceptive. Sadly, a public fascination with appearance often has a negative impact on mental health.

Although body-positive movements are rising in popularity, their effects aren’t fully known. For this mental health awareness week, it’s worth learning a few facts about mental illness around the world.

One in five adults in the U.S. have a mental health condition

Around 1 in 5 adults in the United States has a mental health condition. In many cases, this means depression, anxiety, or a combination of the two. Regardless of what the condition is, it can affect a person’s ability to work, social prospects, and overall wellbeing.

Globally, one in four people have a mental illness

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 1 in 4 people worldwide suffers from a mental illness. Around two-thirds of those people will never seek help. Many live in countries where their illness is stigmatized, which is worth remembering as we reflect on mental health awareness week.

Anorexia has a high mortality rate

One of the main reasons body image is the focus of mental health awareness week is the severe consequences that come with conditions such as anorexia. Of all the recognized mental health conditions, it has the highest mortality rate. Around 1% of women suffer from anorexia.

Body dysmorphia is more common than you think

A shocking one in 50 people suffers from body dysmorphia. This is a condition where you can’t stop thinking about a perceived physical flaw. In many cases, it involves believing that you’re fatter than you are. However, it can concern lots of other body parts, too. Some people may find faults with elements of their face or their general body shape.

Most suicides are male

Most successful suicides are male victims. Around 75% of those who successfully commit suicide in the United States are men. Fortunately, there’s a growing push to encourage men to seek mental health support. Campaigners are trying to defuse the idea that admitting to conditions such as anxiety means you’re weak.

Why mental health awareness week is important

Without campaigns such as mental health awareness week, tackling these conditions will become increasingly difficult. The week is designed to draw attention to appropriate support services. They increase the likelihood that someone will reach out to a mental health charity when they feel alone, rather than suffer in silence.

As for this year’s theme, it’s an excellent pushback against the society that makes people of all ages scrutinize themselves. By assuring people of all ages, but young persons especially, that social media is carefully curated, it’s possible to reduce unnecessary anxieties.

If you want to celebrate this year’s mental health awareness week in style, honour the theme by trying the following:

  • Spend a little time each morning reflecting on what you like about yourself.
  • Create a fitness routine that rewards your body.
  • Pay a flattering comment to the people you love.
  • Reflect on the fact that you’re about more than just your appearance.

With continuous efforts, it’s possible to care for yourself more and punish yourself less.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.