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The Importance of Mental Health

 Understanding The importance of Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Mental health professionals and academics alike, have tried to share this truth with the world since Sigmund Freud first introduced us to the science of psychoanalysis. And lest we forget about the great intellectualistic philosophies of Socrates, which, basically mirrored Freud’s emphasis on the cruciality of taking care of one’s mind – millennia before the father of psychoanalysis was even born.

Unfortunately, three-quarters of a century after Freud’s death, most people still fail to recognize this truth due to the simple fact that mental wounds are not visible, or at least visible like that of physical wounds. Instead, many of us, subconsciously or flagrantly so, subscribe to the irresponsibly incorrect old adage: out of sight, out of mind.

But with teenage depression, drug use/addiction, and especially suicide rates among teens hitting historical highs and epidemic proportions, it is now more vital than ever for parents to divert their thinking from those who do not hold the significance of mental health in high regard. After all, their child’s future could greatly depend on it.

Troubled Teen’s Mental Health Crisis – The Underlying Issues That Lead to Negative Behaviors

Unfortunately, many parents are no different from the majority of Americans who fail to appreciate or at least fully grasp the importance of mental health. All too often, parents punish their teenage child’s self-destructive behaviors rather than addressing the underlying issues that cause them to act out in such a negative way in the first place. In fact, most parents are completely unaware of the fact that most struggling teens act out in order to cover up, self-medicate, or lash out due to frustrations that stem from, or reflectively relates to, an inability to appropriately deal with hidden, psychological pain.

Instead, most parents simply take their child’s actions at face value and address the negative actions as if they were the most significant part of their child’s dilemma. However, in reality, their child’s negative actions are simply a superficial reflection of inner turmoil they, themselves, are not mentally capable of dealing with appropriately. In truth, parents should be focused on the ‘why’ rather than the tempered out of control behaviors themselves. If parents understood the state of their child’s mental health, they would be more capable of saving their child from the repercussions of their actions.

In other words, parents of out of control and struggling teens should be focused on their child’s underlying issues.

This psychological pain, or underlying issues, is what drives most of – if not all of – the negative behaviors struggling teens act upon. Parents who fail to realize this, inadvertently worsen their child’s inner turmoil by ignoring their mental distress, while at the same time, acknowledging their child’s faults through various forms of punishments and combative emotions.

This, in turn, further demoralizes an already mentally strained child and strips them of their already deprived sense of worth. Of course, what follows is more out of control behaviors feeding off deeper mental wounds, thus creating a terrible feedback loop that, if left unchecked, could result in the struggling teen self-destructing to the point that their behaviors and inner turmoil could have long lasting, even life-long implications.

On the other hand, if a parent is able to understand why their child is acting out, if they are able to see past the self-destructive and otherwise, blatantly negative behaviors and instead, address the underlying inner-turmoil their child is too emotionally immature to internally deal with, then they we be able to provide their child with the love and support they so desperately require. In doing so, the child’s self-destructive patterns are much more likely to end after their mental illness is more properly channeled through constructive, and healthy means.

In other words, if you want your child to steer clear from self-destructive behaviors, life-long addictions, developing unhealthy relationships, depression, or suicidal ideation, then you would behoove yourself to fully appreciate the importance of their mental health.


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What is Mental Health?

Mental health refers to a person’s emotional, social, and psychological well-being. Unfortunately, many people view mental health from a more inaccurate and simplistic point of view: ‘if a person appears happy, then they must have good mental health.’ This, of course, is not always the case.

Psychologically suffering people – especially psychologically suffering struggling teens – will sometimes disguise their inner suffering from others. Some are able to hide their pain so well, in fact, they are able to convince even their closest family members and friends that nothing is wrong with them when, in reality, they are suffering from a hellish pain that no one can see.

Needless to say, it is crucial that parents pay attention to their child’s state of mental health, even if their child appears to be happy. Parents can accomplish this ‘reading between the lines’ by paying close attention to their teenage child’s attitudes, relationships, or school and/or extracurricular performance. By paying attention to personal details such as these, parents are better able to detect whether their child is secretly suffering based on any irregularities they are able to notice. 

In addition to regulating one’s degree happiness, mental health also determines things like, how we handle stress and relate to others in our environment. It also refers to one’s self-awareness and belief in their abilities, such as their ability to work productively, and ability to be a positive part of a community or group. This explains why teenagers with poor mental health often choose to be by themselves or hang around other teens with a similar state of psychological disorder.  

Poor Mental Health= Poor Decision Making

But perhaps mental health’s most important functionality is regulating the quality and constructive nature of our decision making. For example, a mentally-ill or distressed teenage boy or girl is much more likely to act out in rage, develop a harmful addiction, or even kill themselves when faced with adversity. This is due to the fact that a psychologically suffering child lacks the mental health that would otherwise assist them in their decision-making. Although, instead of helping the suffering teen, their lacking state of mental health – AKA, their decision regulator – actually hurts their ability to make fruitful choices. Thus, their mental health, or lack thereof, leads the child to act on seemingly insane, negative and self-destructive behaviors.

On the other end of the spectrum, a mentally complacent teenager is able to calmly reflect with more thoughtfulness when met with similarly adverse situations. Instead of self-destructing, a mentally healthy teen will choose to make fruitful personal choices, even in the face of adversity solely because their state of mental health more easily allows them to do so. 

Mental Health vs. Behavioral Health

Typically, the term mental health encompasses the biological component of this aspect of wellness (versus behavioral health, which is more related to environmental or emotional abnormalities). Mental health is also the absence of a mental illness. Those who are well balanced, independent, and contribute to society are considered mentally healthy. Those who aren’t are considered to be mentally unhealthy, and may require mental health services.


What is Mental Illness?

A mental illness causes suffering or difficulty with normal functioning. Mental illnesses affect one’s thinking, mood, and/or behavior negatively. Different types of mental illness can cause poor decision making, inability to maintain close personal relationships, or an inability to remain stable and maintain a job. Those with common mental disorders may also be dangerous to themselves or to others.

Although many individuals may experience mental health concerns from time to time, a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when pervasive symptoms cause continual stress, thus affecting one’s capacity to function normally. Mental health issues cause stress and disruption in one’s life, and this often makes it difficult for mental illness sufferers to lead fulfilling, normal lives. Those battling mental illness may become depressed and withdrawn, or they may make decisions that other people find illogical. Those closest to the sufferer may be the first to recognize that they have a mental illness or one of the types of mental disorders.


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The Elevations Team