“It’s ok not to be okay, but it’s not okay to stay that way.” – Perry Noble
For years no one told me that it’s OK to break, to fall, or to stumble. I was told that I had to “get over” my depression because it was not a real thing. And would you believe me when I say that the person who told me this was a doctor? Not once did anyone come up to me and tell me that it’s OK to not be OK.
Eventually, I realized that because of this – this belief that mental health is not a real issue – we, as a society, and as a community, have been failing. It took me some time, a bit of strength, and a lot of courage to open up and stand against what I had been told almost all my life.
What we fail to realize is that mental health can be affected by many factors in our lives. These factors can either be good or bad, but they will always leave some impact on mental health. For a long time, it was believed that only biological factors were a reason for one’s poor mental health. However, psychological, social, and other factors also play a role in affecting the quality of your mental health.
Most of all, it is the social environment that plays a huge role in how (or whether) we accept mental health as an issue worth concerning.
Let’s take a look at how mental health and society affect each other and what we can do to remove social stigmas to protect mental health as a community.
The Impact Of Mental Health On Society
Mental health disorders exist – and have been existing for centuries. It’s only in the last few decades that we’ve come to accept them as a societal issue. Even with the recognition, mental health disorders have been stigmatized and internalized by many people. This presence of mental health stigma in society has a greater effect than we can imagine.
Economically, financially, and socially – mental health illnesses leave a strong impact on society and communities. Did you know that mental health affects society via “Maternal depression”? This means that the stigma around mental health in communities can raise the risk of low birth rates, childhood problems, and even miscarriage and premature deaths.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that nations around the world can take comprehensive and interventional steps to spread mental health awareness and launch programs to protect societal mental health to lower the impact of mental health on society and communities.
How Does Society Affect Mental Health?
Just like mental health can affect society and communities around the world, vice versa can be true as well. Any experience where you are not treated as an individual or as an equal can affect how you view your self-worth and self-esteem. Here are some areas in life that can affect your mental health;
1. Income And Job Opportunities
Yes, the income you earn and the opportunities you get in your career can impact your mental health. If you’re living in debt or struggling with financial loss then you can be at a higher risk of mental health illnesses and disorders. Poverty or low-income groups do not have access to financial resources which can make affording necessities difficult.
2. Your Living Conditions
Your quality of life can also leave a strong impact on your mental health. If you live in a poor community or neighborhood, you are more likely to add stress to your daily life and make it harder for you to care for your mental health. Where you live can also affect the kind of resources you can have access to – education, healthcare, job opportunities, etc.
Social discrimination, racism, inequality – call it whatever, but this factor also plays a role in how society affects mental health. If you’re treated poorly and face bias, then you are likely to experience poor mental health, lower self-esteem, non-existent self-respect, and a poor sense of self-worth.
Discrimination can happen due to race, appearance, gender, sexuality, age, disabilities, religion,
Nationality, and even ethnicity.
Did you know that experiencing discrimination has been proven to be one of the major causes of stress and has been linked to conditions such as depression and anxiety?
What Can We Do?
It can be upsetting to think that mental health can be easily influenced by societal and cultural factors and vice versa. The sad part is that these factors are beyond our control. We can’t address societal stigmas on our own, after all. As a community? Well, that’s another story.
As a society, we can fight together to remove these mental health stigmas and develop interventional strategies to reduce social inequality and improve how we look at mental health.
Of course, when you live in a society where you are at a disadvantage it can be challenging to your strength and mental health, but even then, we have various buffers that can help protect us from the negative effects of societal influence.
Having higher self-esteem, living an optimistic life, and leaning on social support from our loved ones can just be the start. What we can do more is to learn about the factors that affect mental health and society and what influences these two to act against each other. Once you know that, you can support yourself, overcome the challenges, and remove the stigmas holding many of us back from reaching our full potential.
If you or someone you know are struggling with mental health challenges, then you can reach out to a counselor and get proper treatment and support. All of us deserve happiness and to live a life full of potential and zest. With the right help and support, we can live our life to the fullest.
To help you connect with the right people, here are some resources;
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
You can also drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on our social media to connect with us. You can also drop a comment below to let us know what you think about the impact of mental health and society and how these two influence each other.
Remember, you are not alone.