Mental Health

Mental Health: The Controversy and It’s Importance

Mental health is an extremely hot topic among young people right now. In the past, mental health conditions were swept under the rug. Talking about emotions, feelings, and hardships was considered weak and frowned upon. These beliefs have largely bled over into modern ways if thinking. Although millennials are changing the way mental health is discussed among the masses, there are still areas that could evolve and serve people more effectively.

As millennials enter the workforce, we’re finding that the way businesses and corporations treat mental health could be improved. This article points out that “approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.” Now, I didn’t dive into the research too much. I’m not sure if these numbers are including people who have diagnosed mental illnesses or those who just have symptoms of mental illness. Either way, that is an incredibly high percentage of the population.

So, I personally do not struggle with mental illness. But I think everyone has periods when they feel consistently anxious, sad, overwhelmed, or depressed even if they do not have a diagnosed disorder. That’s why this topic is so important. These feelings are universal to some degree and yet, no one talks about it. Except maybe on Twitter. I actually have a hard time reading about other people’s mental health struggles on social media. Part of that is because I’m not used to reading about mental health really at all besides textbooks. And part of it is wondering if people are being genuine or just wanting attention.

What is mental health?

Mental Health is “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.” This definition doesn’t need much further explanation, but I think having a clear definition helps the conversation. Your mental health, in my opinion, is just as important as your physical health. Mental and emotional ailments can lead to physical problems if left untreated and ignored. The mind and body cannot be separated, they work together to create a whole person. Since that’s the case, neglecting one will negatively affect the other.

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Mental health The Controversy and It's Importance

Why is mental health a controversial topic?

People get really heated about the topic of mental health. There are many reasons for that but I’m just going to mention two of the big points of controversy. 

Can’t physically see the ailment.

It takes a lot of love, trust, and understanding to believe someone when they say they can’t do something because of a mental illness. Unfortunately, the common response to someone saying they have a mental health problem is, “Well, you just need to be happier,” or “You’re being dramatic.” Sometimes that is the case (because the words “depressed” and “anxious” seem to have taken on a much lighter meaning these days), but real mental health problems are different. They can be extremely debilitating. 

If you have a broken foot, you can’t walk on it. No one questions that. You need rest and someone to help you clean the house and get the mail. There’s an X-ray proving that the bone in your leg looks different than it normally does. When you say, “Man, my leg really hurts,” everyone understands. Mental illness is not that clear cut. If you say, “I really can’t do this assignment today, I am extremely anxious,” that doesn’t fly, does it? Even as I’m tying that I’m secretly thinking, “Well, you can just push through it.” 

Perceived as weak or feminine.

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a Gerontology student, which means that I study aging. In my studies I’ve learned a lot about how mental health conditions impact aging. Did you know that depression is the number one mental health problem among older adults? This stems from the fact that we’re taught from a young age that our emotions and feelings make us weak. This social norm is perpetuated by both men and women.

If a young boy starts crying, an adult will tell him that “big boys don’t cry!” This idea flows into our adult lives and many people don’t learn to express their emotions and feelings in a healthy way. I think this effects men in really obvious ways, especially when it comes to relationships. I posted an article a few weeks ago about gender differences in communication and there were so many people that didn’t realize that some of their relationship problems stem from simple gender differences. 

Why is mental health important to talk about?

For the reasons listed above, I would like to bring more awareness to how millennials are handling mental health in a time when it is thought of as weak, feminine, complicated, and “just a trend.” For the next several weeks, I’m going to share stories, experiences, and thoughts from our peers about how mental health effects their careers, families, school work, etc. If you would like to participate and share your own stories, please feel free to shoot me an email at helloprofessionalgirl@gmail.com

You have a voice, you are important, and you can make a difference. Let’s all strive to listen a little harder to what others are telling us and strive to change for the better.

MAKAYLA

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How Understanding Gender Differences Aids Communication

How Understanding Gender Differences Aids Communication

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the personal development book I chose for February is Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps by Barbara and Allan Pease. One giant obstacle to communication is relating to one another and understanding someone else’s point of view. That can be magnified because of gender differences that aren’t often talked about or understood.

This subject can be controversial because our society wants to paint men and women as the same, even though there are unique differences. Men are not better than women; women are not better than men. But there are differences. And although this book wasn’t my style, it still had good information that can help us understand each other better.

We Are Unique

I would like to point out that every single person on this planet is different. The things I talk about below may seem limiting, but they talk about the majority of people in each gender. I completely understand that some women will not fit every female trait and some men will not fit every male trait, because we’re all individuals! Some people do not feel as if they fall into a male or female category, and there are people all over the spectrum. However, I think this post can still be applicable to anyone that doesn’t fall into these categories. It will still allow you to learn about the way people think, and maybe help you understand your own thought processes a little better.

That being said, welcome to the third month of personal and professional book discussions! In case you missed them, here are links to December and January‘s posts. December’s post was about 5 Ways to Ensure Success, and January’s post was about How to Take Advantage of Your Twenties.

How Understanding gender differences aids communication

This post contains affiliate links.

There were eleven headings in this book. The headings cover a broad variety of topics including communication, sex, biology, the workplace, etc. For our purposes, I would like to focus on the aspects that help us understand how to communicate effectively with the people around us.

Compartmentalizing VS Multitasking

Have you ever seen those graphics where the inside of a man’s brain is a bunch of boxes neatly labeled, and a woman’s brain is a tangled ball of yarn? According to research done by Barbara and Allan Pease, that graphic is incredibly accurate.

Men are more likely to be able to compartmentalize their thoughts, meaning that they can separate their thoughts into categories that don’t often mix. For example, if something goes wrong at work, a man can either go to the “angry box” or the “problem-solving box.” If they choose the problem-solving box they may feel anger about the situation later, but probably not at the same time.

Women, on the other hand, are quite different. Think back to that tangled ball of yarn. Women’s thoughts and feelings are all connected. Is something goes wrong at work, we are likely to feel man, annoyed, pressure to solve the problem, a little sad that the system isn’t working the way it should, which would remind us that the dishwasher at home is broken… You get the idea.

Since our brains are wired differently, it’s easier for men to perform a single task at a time and really focus on it. For women, we are masters at multitasking and get bored if we are told to focus on one thing. Understanding this difference is important, because it gets to the root of some persistent problems in many relationships and professional settings.

Indexing VS Talking

It’s common knowledge that most women talk more than men. But did you know there is actually science to back that up? Talking about problems, thoughts, and feelings is the best way for women to get them out of our heads. I think this is one of the reasons writing in a journal is so effective as well. It physically gets the thoughts out of your mind and allows you to think about other things!

Men are the opposite. They keep their thoughts, feelings, and problems in their mind and file them away. They are more likely to take time to sit on an issue and put them on hold to think clearly about them later. I’ve found this to be true in my marriage, and it drives me crazy (even though it’s probably a good thing)! I make decisions much faster than my husband does. The good thing about this is that it allows me to think more clearly about situations too by giving it time and making sure it’s not powered by the emotions of the moment.

There methods of dealing with problems causes tension between the genders, because they are essentially opposites. When women talk about all of their problems at the end of the day, they simply want to discharge, but men think the women are giving them a list of problems to solve. The best way to handle this situation is for the woman to say, “Hey, I would love to talk to you about my day. Don’t feel like I’m bombarding you with problems to solve, I just want you to know what’s going on in my head.”

Turn-Taking VS Engaged Interrupting

One thing I’ve learned from this book that I actively try to utilize in my life is how interrupting comes off to different genders. For women, we love to talk together and nod along with what someone is saying, and “Mhm!” and “Oh, right!” while they’re talking. It shows engagement, camaraderie, and builds rapport. Which I personally love!

The problem is when women try to apply this to talking to men. Men rarely interrupt each other and only do so when they perceive another man as being aggressive or competitive. So when women try to apply the way they speak to other women, it comes off as aggressive. And when men try to speak to women the way they speak to other men, they come off as disinterested and not engaged.

Finding a middle ground and understanding that there are key differences can help us learn to communicate better. It can also help us understand why people act the way they do. Try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, no matter what situation you’re in.

Although these categories may seem limiting, they fit the majority of people! I encourage you to put them to the test. See if adopting these tactics help you communicate better with the people around you. AND, If you’re looking for more interesting personal and professional development books, here’s a list of books to read in 2018. I hope you’ll join me in reading one every month!

Have you found any helpful, effective ways to communicate with others? Share them in the comments. We would definitely benefit from your thoughts and experiences.

Makayla

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