More than mind-numbing

In the relatively recent past, the stigma against mental health disorders has prevented widespread conversations about its prevalence in daily life of the ordinary person. However, with an influx of national tragedies, suicides, substance addictions and more, society decided that it was finally relevant and thus began a national battle for good mental health.

While it is incredible that mental health is less stigmatized and help is more easily accessible to those who need it, I fear that a line was crossed somewhere. In advocating nationally and globally for mental health, it became a commodity.

Like a pendulum, we swung from one extreme to another. Before, mental health was taboo. There were no conversations and it was not an “issue.” Later, mental health was a forced conversation, and it was more common to fall into a category (i.e., anxious, depressed, hyperactive, etc.) than not. Fleeting emotions and situations are immediately diagnosed and treated; negativity is now viewed as “unhealthy.”

There are now thousands of apps and services in which people can pay money for mental health assistance and support. Forms and surveys that evaluate mental health statuses are filled out in most public institutions, but the questions are vague and misleading. Medication is widespread and easily acquired, especially SSRIs, which aid in correcting the chemical balances responsible for anxiety and depression.

I am personally opposed to the idea of promoting neurotransmitters to fix minor problems. The harsh reality of mental health disorders—namely depression and anxiety—is that they fall on a spectrum. The impact of neurotransmitters will inevitably affect other parts of the brain and behavior, which might end up being worse than the original issue.

Please do not misunderstand me—the last thing I want to do is discredit mental health disorders. They are prevalent within our society, and the fight for proper treatment for mental health is crucial. However, I believe this hyper fixation on mental health as a whole is desensitizing us to the issue and creating confusion as to what qualifies as a disorder, a symptom or a “normal” response to different experiences.

A happy medium is necessary. There are fields in which professionals are trained and certified to deal with mental health disorders—psychologists and psychiatrists. I believe we need to scale back the overwhelming number of resources just a bit and allow more input from psychologists and psychiatrists on how to treat mental health.

I also think there should be more emphasis put on self-care, and there should be education on healthy coping mechanisms. Medication, unless used for a disorder or illness that involves a lack of lucidity or control, should be used as a tool not a crutch.

As a society, I am proud of how far we have come in the fight for good mental health. I just do not want to see us succumb to the illusion of quick results, the idea that medication is always necessary or the agenda of large companies that simply want more revenue. Growth has been exponential; now we are in a place where we can tweak the present system and allow for a more effective, long-term solution for the pervasive mental health disorders in our communities.