We, as human beings, think a lot about our physical appearance and parts of our personality that are visible to others. How we walk, the manner we talk, the color of our hair and skin complexion, things like these are always our priority concerns.
Majority of us remain busy in modifying these aspects of appearance regularly, to look good and to get appreciated by others. But we always forget that inside us, there is another part of our personality that remains hidden for a long time, which starts interfering in our other aspects of life when it is not given priority.
That essential part is our mental health, which is comprised of our cognitive processes and our emotional wellbeing.
We might become happy after we share things about our physical appearance, like a new dress or a new haircut, but we are always afraid to tell people about our inner-most issues. Things like “I feel alone” or “I am over-burdened” rarely slip our tongues. Similarly, people are more comfortable in asking about our new diet plan instead of how we are feeling or if we are depressed.
Mental health, for many, remains a taboo not worth discussing openly. But this shouldn’t be the case.
Along with all other parts of our wellbeing, mental health is just as significant. We usually don’t talk about the emotions and issues we face in our day-to-day life because we feel that the people around us would judge us. Statements like “What will the world think of me” or “I am a coward, not brave enough to deal with this” or “I am a man, I can’t cry” or “Crying is the fundamental characteristic of women” start to cloud our judgment and we end up suffering more.
Our first fear, when we think about mental health, is the stereotypes associated with it. If you think more about what others will say and less about your own self, then you will continue to be affected. Talking and catharsis are the cornerstones of a good mental health treatment and not sharing these things will only suffocate you more.
Secondly, the concept in our socio-cultural context of “Am I mad? Why should I seek help?” or “Nothing has happened to me” restricts us from seeking help or sharing our mental health problems with others. We are, most of the time, in denial of accepting this truth – the truth that we are facing some sort of psychological problem or issue. We need to remember that mental health issues are the same as physical diseases or health issues. We become vigilant about physical diseases and try to get them cured as soon as possible but the same urgency is not felt with mental illnesses, and that needs to be changed. Proper and timely treatment can often curb many harmful diseases, before they end up plaguing our lives.
The bottom line is, if you really care about your health, then consider it overall, not just physical. Work on your mental and emotional wellbeing too and help others to consider it as well. Talk to your friends, family or those who are part of your social support and share what you feel. Ask them also, to discuss what they feel. So that you and the people around you can identify these issues early and deal with them before they reach to a greater extent.
About the author: Sarmad M. Soomar is a student nurse at AKUH, Karachi. In addition, he is a member of the Sigma theta tau international (honorary society of nurses). His interests are community health, mental health, child health, reproductive health and nursing education.