We’re living, as many of us can tell, interesting times. The pandemic has forced us to see the real dimensions of some issues often put aside from the public conversation. It showed us how those things we claimed to be not important enough to be prioritized had an impact on so many areas of our lives. And the mental health, the caregivers, were two of the things we’ve finally got to see that can not be postponed anymore.
Because, as much as we wouldn’t want to admit it, there is a great need for mental health services. There are people in need that can not afford the costs of their therapy sessions. There are no programs to support people’s access to mental health services. And there is for sure necessary to have mental health advocates. Here’s why.
- Mental health issues occur at earlier ages than before
It ain’t easy being a child or a teenager in this era. Everything has to happen now to be relevant, and the pressure is huge. Family pressure, peer pressure, social pressure, everything has an impact on our children’s mental health. And there are enough studies that warn us about the symptoms of anxiety and depression having a rise in the age group 10-13. Our pre-teens are not alright, and their mental health is just as important as their physical one. What are we actually doing for them?
- Mental health is a matter of public interest
There is no single aspect of someone’s life to not be affected by their mental health status. It affects their consuming behaviors, work patterns, productivity, empathy, ways of interacting with other people, everything one could possibly think about. In extreme cases, it is a matter affecting public safety, as well as the individual’s safety. And there is no responsible society letting their most vulnerable citizens deal with this on their own.
- Mental health affects everyone’s lives
Mental health issues are not individual but systemic issues. They are the result of living in a hostile society. But they also have an impact at a social level: people needing mental healthcare are harder to be included on the job market, have less social ties, and sometimes become bargains for their close ones. Things that could be avoided if there would be a support system that would tackle the mental health challenges from their very beginning. If only there would be someone there to actually take the time and listen.
- The social stigma associated with mental health services prevent people from seeking help
This is, besides the political and institutional aspects, one of the greatest challenges of anyone who’s advocating for mental healthcare. The associated stigma, which is still very powerful.
Besides the financial aspects, as for many people the psychotherapy sessions are not immediately affordable, they also have to fight the associated stigma. Because the belief that someone seeing a psychotherapist is a misfit remains, despite all the mental health awareness and resources across the Internet, still powerful and common.
These are just a small part of the reasons that make mental health a political matter. Because it concerns each and every one of us. Because it could be you or someone dear to you that’s going to struggle tomorrow. Because having a safety net that’s been well-built is an incredible asset in times of extreme uncertainty. Because mental health is health. There’s no such thing as harmful as the separation between physical and mental health. They’re both essential parts of what’s called being human.
Because being an advocate for mental healthcare is one of the bravest things one can do. It takes courage and an in-depth understanding of their privilege to come and stand up for such a vulnerable matter. In the long run, though, it remains a battle that, if chosen by many, will benefit us all. But for that day to come, there’s a need for activists and advocates of the seemingly easy to understand idea that mental health is just as important as the health of our bodies.