When someone has a broken bone, a sore throat, or a sharp pain, they get to a doctor to get it checked out. In many cases, as long as the issue is physical, it is addressed by a professional in a timely manner. However, this is rarely the case when someone is struggling with their mental health. Since these challenges appear invisible to the outside world, mental health challenges are not taken as seriously as those that are physical. Unfortunately, mental health has been stigmatized, leading people to avoid treatment when they need it to feel their best. Prioritizing one's mental health is vital to care for one’s overall health, as mental health and physical health are closely related. When someone’s mental health is poor, it often manifests in physical symptoms. Many times, addressing mental health can mean addressing the root of the problem.

Ignoring our mental health can lead to serious risks including anxiety, depression, high levels of stress, and in extreme cases, suicide. Poor mental health can come from a variety of factors including childhood trauma or abuse, environmental stressors, and genetics. Lifestyle can also impact one’s mental health, for instance if someone is participating in substance abuse or is struggling to give their body regular movement and proper nutrition. The mere pressure of living in a society where everyone’s lives are showcased on social media for the world to see, judge, and interact with can lead anyone to have a decline in mental health. Luckily, in more recent years, there is more awareness around the necessity to prioritize mental health which makes us hopeful for future generations that seek treatment and normalize the importance of caring for one’s mental health.

Prioritizing mental health is key to enjoying a fulfilling and meaningful life. Good mental health can improve daily mood, increase inner peace, and promote clearer thought patterns. It can reduce anxiety, aid in coping with day to day stressors, and improve one’s self esteem. It can improve our levels of productivity, improve our sense of self, and help us reach for our highest potential. Good mental health can also greatly improve our relationships with the people and the world around us. In essence, if we prioritize and commit to bettering our mental health, every aspect of our lives will benefit in return.

Many factors influence our mental health. Some things that can have a negative impact can include long periods of stress, unemployment, or poverty. Social isolation can cause a decline in our mental health, leading to intense feelings of loneliness. Neglect, abuse, trauma, and debilitating physical conditions make it very difficult to function effectively day to day. Unfortunately, many people experience discrimination and challenges in family life regularly, both of which can lead to a decline in mental health. On the other hand, therapy, journaling, mindfulness practice, and exercise are just a few ways we can enjoy greater peace and less thought clutter in our minds. If we are to commit to taking mental health as seriously as we take physical health, we will reach our fullest potential, feel healthier mentally and physically, and live more fulfilling and meaningful lives.

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