Mental health doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Today, we’re taking a break from technology for some personal stories and useful guides in an effort to spread awareness about depression, anxiety, and other issues.
Mental ailments aren’t always as clear and obvious as physical ones. But chances are, you know someone–or multiple people–that struggle with one. Nearly 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness of some sort, whether it be depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, or something else. Half of chronic mental illnesses begin by age 14, but on average, it takes 8 to 10 years before anyone actually intervenes. 42,773 Americans die by suicide every year, and for each one that does, 25 more attempt it.
That’s why this is important for everyone to know about, not just those struggling. You may not be that 1 in 5, but chances are, you know someone–or multiple people–who are.
My college roommate struggled with depression and self-harm. My ex-girlfriend was on the verge of an eating disorder before we broke up. I brushed these things off far too easily because I didn’t truly understand what they meant. I thought depression was no different from “being sad”, and if you could just snap out of it and have a more positive outlook, you’d be okay. But as author Barbara Kingsolver said:
“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold–with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.”
If you aren’t convinced, read this webcomic from Hyperbole and a Half. I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything that described it to me quite like that. And while neither of these people are in my life anymore, I wish I could go back and been a better friend to both.
Even if you don’t realize it, mental health has probably affected your life in some way–whether through you or a friend or family member. Even in discussing this, the How-To Geek staff found they had many stories to share. So today, in honor of Mental Health Month (May), we’re taking a single day to tell our stories, share some ideas for help, and hopefully make a difference for someone.
We’ll be back tomorrow with your daily dose of technology (though I’m sure our forum will still be buzzing with tech conversations to hold you over). Until then, I urge you to read some of the stories from our staff–more will be posted throughout the day. They’ve opened my eyes a ton, and hopefully they can do the same to yours.