We don’t really talk about mental health. It’s an issue that we need to talk about more but the only times we tend to talk about them is when something bad happens. I was inspired to write an article about the state of conversation about mental health after a conversation with a rather important figure in my life growing up.
So, What Now?
Besides the few articles that require a few clicks to find such as…
You don’t really hear people talk about mental health. Not during your family gathering that one time, within friends or – in the place I believe is most important – in schools. Typical causes of mental health like a poor social support system, trauma or results of issues like bullying are not looked at during everyday conversations. In previous posts, I have mentioned that we sometimes care more about how many likes our Instagram posts may get, rather than whether our close friends might be suffering from a health problem. A mental health problem, is very much like a physical one, both of which are problems.
Just because we do not see the cases of depression or ADHD happening, does not mean we can discount that it is happening right in front of our eyes. For example, depression or anxiety disorder is often faceless. You don’t see the sufferer show obvious signs of being depressed or needing urgent medical care until it is too late. The fact that we don’t talk about these topics, simply allows it to fester facelessly and the consequences often make us realise the importance of mental health when it is too late.
To quote the late Chester Bennington in his song with Linkin Park:
Just ’cause you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it, isn’t there
My Health Problem
Let me use a chart to illustrate the problem.
Ever since I was haunted by the monster that I call depression and anxiety, my mood – with the level of depression within me – started this ever descending roller coaster ride, with the lowest point so far being my most recent hospitalisation (due to suicide risk). There were periods of ups and downs, but it never seemed to go back to normal, before I faced problems with my health.
2 things can happen from this point on. The first (left) is me being dangerously close to my breaking point, or as my doctors label it, “the point at which I will snap”, or like in the right chart, still rather far away from my breaking point. This means my next breakdown could bring me closer, or even past my breaking point. Or, it won’t. I wouldn’t know.
Regardless, the ever descending rollercoaster is one that many might be going through. On this slippery slope where you’re slowly but surely moving towards your breaking point. Three steps forward, two steps back.
What does this have to do with the conversation about mental health?
To me, with mental health, prevention is much more effective than cure. They can’t really tell you the cure, it isn’t like the flu where antibiotics and flu medication can cure you. Mental health is often treated on a case-to-case basis. This means one type of medication might not work for you, but it does for others.
This means, talking about mental health, making people around you aware that this problem exists, about the symptoms, treatment, cure and ways to prevent these problems from festering in the first place, might be more useful than a visit to the doctor that is often too late. I guess this is a problem about another problem. The fact that we don’t talk about mental health, makes more of us prone to ignoring symptoms of health problems and being affected in the long term.
In schools, we have an education system that makes us masters in math and the sciences, but we hardly mention mental health. Sure, we might have yearly checkups to ensure that our eyesight is 20/20 and we don’t have any major physical problems, but what about mental health? It takes a long and arduous process to identify whether one is suffering from – or even hiding – mental health issues and these issues can arise from one of many causes (see above).
So yes, the transport system and its frequent breakdowns might make for an interesting topic for a conversation, but how about talking about how we are doing, physically, mentally and emotionally?
According to the study*, MDD was the most common mental illness in Singapore. 5.8% of the adult population in Singapore suffered from MDD at some time in their lifetime. In the previous 12 months (prior to the survey), 2.2% of the adult population had MDD.
About half (49.2%) of people with MDD had at least one chronic physical illness.
Both Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and OCD are anxiety disorders. About 100,000 individuals in our local population suffered from anxiety disorders during their lifetime. Overall, 3.9% suffered GAD and OCD during their lifetime. Nearly half of those with GAD (40.2%) also had a chronic physical illness.
Congratulations for making it this far in my article. We have a lot of progress to taking mental health seriously, but I am glad that certain musical artists have started talking about this taboo topic. My personal recommendations below.
1800-273-8255 by Logic – A song about suicide prevention
Anziety by Logic – A song about anxiety and mental health
References, Links & Sources:
- [*] – https://www.imh.com.sg/uploadedFiles/Newsroom/News_Releases/SMHS%20news%20release.pdf