Here’s What You Should Know When Talking About Mental Health

By: Springfield-Greene County Health

This blog post discusses mental health conditions and symptoms and should not be taken as medical advice or any diagnosis. Please discuss with your doctor or a mental health professional if you are experiencing any symptoms or have concerns about your mental wellbeing.

Everyday conversations about mental health have become more common place in recent years, which is an important step in normalizing mental health care in our lives. Here at Springfield-Greene County Health we want to support our community members to be their healthiest self — which includes taking care of your mental health.

Considering that 21% of all U.S. adults are currently living with a mental health condition, it is likely you or someone you know is included in this percentage. Having a conversation with loved ones or even with yourself about mental health can be difficult — and not just because of the stigma surrounding mental health, but because we may not even be able to put it into words.

This is why we spent the first week of Mental Health Month providing definitions of mental health terms on our social media pages. If you missed it, that’s okay –the focus of this week’s blog is to help equip you with the right words when talking about mental health so you can participate in conversations surrounding mental health or help define something you haven’t been able to.

Mental Health Conditions

Firstly, it’s important to know that “mental health condition” is used interchangeably by many organizations with “mental illnesses.” Below are a few of the most prevalent mental health conditions impacting Greene County residents and their definitions.

· Anxiety: An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

· Depressive Disorders: A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.

· Obsessive Compulsive Disorder/Anxiety Disorders: A disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).

· Bipolar Manic: A disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. There are three types: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymic Disorder.

Clinical Terms in Mental Health

Clinical terms for mental health may seem daunting, but they can help lead you in the right direction to know who to ask for help or what to do if you think you have a mental health condition.

· Psychiatrist: A licensed medical doctor who has completed additional psychiatric training; can diagnose mental health conditions, prescribe and manage medication, and provide therapy.

· Psychologist: A person who specializes in the study of mind and behavior or in the treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders; a specialist in psychology.

· Therapist: A mental health professional trained to help individuals understand and cope with their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; may assess and/or diagnose mental health conditions.

· Mental Health Screen: An evaluation of your mental health and well-being through scientifically validated assessment tools.

· Self-stigma: Negative attitudes and shame regarding an individual’s own mental health, resulting from internalizing public stigma.

· Mental Health Professional: A licensed or certified mental health treatment provider.

Now that you know some of the basic definitions, it’s time to put them to use. Whether this be in an everyday conversation with a friend, a clinical discussion with your doctor, or even with yourself, knowing how to talk about mental health is a great first step in learning more.

If you think you may have a mental health condition, Mental Health America provides an online mental health screening test that can help you identify if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.

Keep an eye out this week on our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as we post more ways you can put your newfound knowledge to use not only this week but every week after, too. Remember, help and recovery is possible, and you are not alone.

Definition Sources

Mental Health America (https://mhanational.org/)

Psychiatry.org

National Institute of Mental Health (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/)

American Psychological Association (apa.org)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org)

Community Data Source

https://web.mhanet.com/health-equity-dashboards/

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