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Camille Leiter

Jackie Burr, Instructor

English 2010, Section 2

26 March 2018

The Effects of Mental Illness

In the United States, about one in five adults experiences mental illness in a given year.

That is 43.8 million people or 18.5 percent of the population. According to the an article called

Mental Health by the Numbers​, “​Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition

received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness,

62.9% received mental health services in the past year” (Nami). Many people suffer from mental

illness and do not seek or receive help. Mental illnesses are disorders that affect behavior, mood,

and thoughts and without receiving help, can more deeply affect a person emotionally, mentally,

and physically. It is something most people have dealt with or will deal with at some point in

their lives. Many people do not feel comfortable talking about mental health because either they

do not feel it is acceptable themselves or they fear that others will feel it is not an acceptable

topic to discuss. It is unhealthy not to acknowledge such a pressing issue in society because

talking about mental health helps people in so many ways.

Mental illness can affect a person in every aspect of their life. Depending on the severity

of the disorder, it affects the thoughts, mood, and behavior. Not only is a person affected

mentally but emotionally and physically as well. Mental illnesses and disorders have an impact

on a person’s lifestyle and social life. The ​Australian Journal of Social Issues​ states that “​People

with intellectual disability may be limited not only in their cognitive and adaptive behaviour
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skills, but also by emotional and behavioural disorders that further limit their ability to learn new

skills, adapt to changing environments and develop appropriate social interaction skills”

(Hudson). Many different types of mental disorders can have an impact on the ways people live

their lives. ​For example, depression has a significant impact on a person’s lifestyle and social

interaction skills. Someone with depression may, over time, no longer enjoy hobbies or interests

they used to enjoy. They may also not feel the need to go into social settings and interact with

other people. The type of disorder and the severity of the disorder determine what types of

symptoms a person has.

It is important that mental health becomes a more acceptable topic to discuss. As time

goes on, mental health is becoming a more well-known issue. More people are beginning to talk

about it- usually due to tragic events such as suicide. Mental health has not always been a topic

open to discussion among most people, it has become more popular in recent years. Ginger

Higgins, a scholar with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, stated that “Five to ten years ago,

almost nobody felt comfortable talking about mental health. Not talking about it makes it worse

for the people who have to deal with mental health issues”. It is unhealthy for someone with a

mental health issue to keep it to themself. It is important for everyone to have at least one person

in their life whom they feel comfortable talking to about any feelings they may have. As more

people openly have discussions about mental health, it will help those who struggle with it to

reach out and get the help that they need.

A wide range of people who struggle with mental health often think the feelings they

have are normal or they are just going through a phase so they do not need to get help. Not

getting help makes the situation worse. Many people may not know that the issues they
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experience could be symptoms of a mental illness. It is important to educate people about mental

illness in order for them to recognize potential signs and symptoms in themselves and others.

Having a basic understanding of mental illnesses could help people to know when to ask for help

or guide someone else to get help.

In order to educate people about mental illness, there should be a requirement for

educational systems to educate their students about mental health. It would be helpful for

students to take a psychology class in order to understand how the mind works. Psychology is an

optional course in most high schools that students may take if they would like. If psychology was

a required course for high school students, or even middle school students, more people would

have at least a basic understanding of mental health. In the education system today, students do

not learn much about the brain, how the mind works, and how to keep the mind healthy. This

may be one of the reasons why many people do not know how to help others or talk about mental


It is essential to do things that would keep the mind

healthy because having a healthy mind leads to a healthier and

happier life. One of the most important things someone can do to

maintain a healthy mind is to have a type of outlet to get their

feelings out. Whether that is someone to talk to- a friend, parent,

counselor- or a journal, it will help them to let out their feelings

instead of keeping them inside all the time. Talking to someone

helps a person to know whether or not they need to reach out for help. In keeping the mind

healthy, it is also important to do some type of physical activity. It can be a sport, working out,
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yoga, taking a dog for a walk, or even just going outside. While doing physical activity,

chemicals are released in the brain that allow a person to feel happier and more positive. Physical

health helps mental health to improve. Along with physical activity, it is important to eat the

correct foods as well. Eating a healthy, balanced diet helps enormously with mental health. If

someone were to eat unhealthy foods all the time, they would be more likely to be depressed.

Another way to keep the mind healthy and prevent mental illness is to find a hobby or interest to

be passionate about. Having a passion is a good way for one to express themself and find

meaning in their life.

Finding ways to help others who may be struggling with mental illness is important. It

may be difficult to understand what another person is going through when one does not have the

same issues themselves. Many people do not know how to help someone they know who may be

dealing with a mental health issue because it is a complex problem that one cannot fully

understand unless they experience it in their own life. Although one cannot fully understand

another person’s problems, it is important to listen to them, take them seriously and be sensitive

to their feelings. Making someone feel bad for feeling a certain way does more harm than help.

Validating a person’s feelings and directing them to help if they need it is a start to improving

their mental health and helping them to feel better.

Most people experience some form of mental illness at some point in their life, whether

that is in a severe way or a small way. In order to improve mental health in general, people must

work together to be more accepting of others and make mental health a more acceptable topic to

discuss. It is more helpful for someone who may be struggling with mental illness to get help as

soon as they can, rather than waiting until their signs and symptoms get more severe. If people,
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as a society, are more open to discuss mental health, it will benefit many people’s lives. It would

help people to be more open to talking about mental health if they were educated about it in

school and if people encouraged them to talk about it. Many well-known people who have

struggled with mental illness have, more recently, been sharing their stories and how getting help

with their issues improved their life. For example, Demi Lovato struggled with bipolar disorder,

eating disorders, and drug abuse in her teen years and she has made it a big part of her career to

share her story with her fans to encourage them to learn from her experience and to get help if

they need it. Another example is a song by a rapper, Logic, called “1-800-273-8255”, named

after the suicide prevention hotline. The song is about suicide and shares the importance of

getting help. Well-known people encouraging others to get help seems to be effective because it

makes others feel like they are not alone when they hear that others are struggling with the same

issues they are. It is also helpful because in general, people feel that famous people have perfect

lives and they do not have any struggles when, in reality, their lives are a lot harder than most

would think. When famous people share their struggles with others, it gives them a reality check

that no one is perfect, everybody has their own struggles, and no one is truly alone. It is

interesting for other people to learn about other’s stories and learn how to reach out for help. It

would be helpful if more people shared their stories so more people could learn from others.

The most important thing to do in order to help others is to always be kind. It seems like a

simple thing to do but many people struggle with being kind to others. No one truly knows what

another person may be going through and the words one person says may have a large impact on

someone else. Making a positive impact on someone’s life should be the ultimate goal. Every

person needs to work on being more positive and uplifting to others. Nobody is perfect and that
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is what every person needs to remember. People put too much pressure on themselves to be

perfect all the time but that is unrealistic. It is important for people to take life one step at a time

and do their best in everything they do.

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Works Cited

Bonell, Chris. "The Challenges of Promoting Mental Health in Schools and the Importance of

Trial Evidence in Surmounting These: A Response to Humphrey." ​Psychology of

Education Review​, vol. 42, no. 1, Spring2018, pp. 22-24. EBSCO​host. ​Web.

Hudson, Colin and Jeffrey Chan. "Individuals with Intellectual Disability and Mental Illness: A

Literature Review." ​Australian Journal of Social Issues (Australian Council of Social

Service)​, vol. 37, no. 1, Feb. 2002, pp. 31-49. EBSCO​host. ​Web.

Nami. “Mental Health by the Numbers.” ​Nami​, 10 Mar. 2016, Web.

Higgins, Ginger. Personal Interview. 10 April 2018.

“What Is Mental Health?” edited by Mental ​What Is Mental Health?​, Mental Web.

Plus, Medicine. “Mental Disorders.” ​MedlinePlus​, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 27 Mar.

2018. Web.

UK, Amy. “Personal Stories.” ​Time To Change​, 12 Apr. 2018. Web.

Lindzon, Jared. “Mental Health and Disorders.” ​The New York Times​, The New York Times, 14

Apr. 2018. Web.