• Jasmine Perez

The Importance of Mental Health Compared to Physical Health

Most patients attend a doctor’s office for the simple act of a physical exam, but why is it unheard of to attend an appointment with the sole purpose of a mental health assessment? Mental wellness or rather the lack of can greatly impact daily life, ranging from one’s energy level to the absence of motivation in conducting simple tasks. Mind and body are both connected at the core, as both heavily rely on each other. When mental health is unstable, it appears that one’s social and physical life will be in harm too. Truth is, mental health is just as important as physical health due to the wide assortment of illnesses known to be present in one’s actions, as well as their mind and it should be properly medicated and cared for as such.

Daily activities for someone who is physically ill can be just as difficult as someone diagnosed with clinical depression; both must examine their actions, surroundings, and the outcome of such. Depression is a mental disorder that consists of symptoms that can affect how the mind processes events or feelings and can stunt the motivation to manage simple tasks and activities. Some of these activities include eating, sleeping, or managing work. Everyone is different and handles mental illnesses in a variety of ways, but for most this disorder can lead to the standstill of eating, which results in lack of vitamins and protein needed to be physically healthy. Sleeping too much or sleeping too little can also lead to a lack of energy that depression causes therein forcing one’s body to be physically unhealthy and exhausted. Physical and mental illnesses are both related and even created by some of the same issues, and yet, mental health still carries stigma. Disorders, within themselves, should in all be treated separately and differently, but in some cases, mental illness will go completely unseen or untreated leading to severe physical harm in the future. If mental illness goes untreated, they will escalate into bigger physical problems such as heart disease, a weakened immune system, and eventually leading to a premature death. Mental health is the underlying origin of most physical problems, which is to say that both are just as important. (Vaughn) Taking care of mentality is, if not, more important than taking care of the physicality of one’s body and life.

Most mental disorders can be caused by “genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors,” as stated by the National Institute of Mental Health. The factors that cause a physical illness like asthma consists of the same elements that mental illnesses are formed from. Illnesses; mental or physical; can both be found as hereditary or caused by their surroundings depending on the diagnosis and illness. Usually when one starts identifying the early signs of a flu or other sickness, such as coughing or a sore throat, they go to the doctor and are immediately seen whether they’ve scheduled an appointment beforehand or attended a walk-in urgent care, yet medical assistance related to mental health is not quite accessible. Rarely is a mental health examination scheduled before the crisis can be adverted. Instead, a mental health assessment can take weeks to schedule and is generally arranged after stage fouri of the mental health process. The lack of medical attention can drastically alter the mental well-being, just as a flu should be tended to so should a manic episode. 

Social stigma and discrimination are the focus point of mental health’s biggest issues. It’s a topic that is seldom spoke about in classrooms or in the media. Mental disorders are registered as disabilities which makes it harder for those who have them to find work or interact with others. The term “mental health days” is no different that the “sick days” that are often offered at companies when an employee has come down with a cold or headache and yet, it hasn’t been normalized that we need our “sick days” too.  The stigma has stopped others from getting the help they need due to an embarrassing feeling that they are simply overreacting or a fear of being categorized as “dangerous, criminal, evil, or very disabled and unable to live normal, fulfilled lives,” as stated by the Mental Health Foundation. When the stigma on mental health is lifted will be the day that physical and mental health will be equally as important. 

Though mental health, when untreated, can result in certain physical health complications, it is also proven that lifestyle changes in the physical aspect of one’s life can help improve mental health, as well. Lifestyle changes will not entirely cure anxiety or depression, but it does help relieve them and some of these changes include exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, or receiving medical assistance and support. When maintaining a healthy diet, it is crucial to avoid low-nutrient and high-calorie foods as this has been proven to directly increase the symptoms of a mental disorder. A healthy diet and continuing with it can increase brain function and energy levels while also eliminating the fatigue that occurs with poor mental health. Scientists from the 1950s’ concluded that mental ailments usually exist when there is a chemical imbalance within the brain which can either signify that there is either too much or not enough neurotransmitters; serotonin and norepinephrine. Although it is said that this is still a working theory, brains lacking in serotonin can be improved by exercise indicating that it is mentally healthy to remain physically healthy. (Cafasso)

Though mental health is often the underlying origin of a physical illness, sometimes it isn’t. Some physical illnesses are simply caused within the genetic formations rather than occurring inside the brain. Lifestyle changes, like stated before, are the biggest factor in eliminating certain physical diseases and indeed, has nothing to do with the mind although this can lead to a downhill affect with mental health. In the end, effecting the mental state due to a change in the physical state, which is to say, yet again, that mental and physical health are both to rely on each other.

The mental well-being of someone is just as important as the physicality of the human body. These illnesses, whether they’re physical or mental need to be treated and brought attention to. So, the question remains, “How could mental health be overlooked as a means to be a healthy human being?” In everyday life, what others see is the outside and how that is affecting the actions of one and yet, no one dares to consider that the origin of a sickness is the brain, itself. It begins and ends with mental health. Now is the time to realize the importance of mental health related to physical health and how each, in themselves, are being affected by daily tasks, hereditary symptoms, and lack of awareness. 

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