Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Mental Health in America: A Real Cry for Help

March 7, 2021 · No Comments · Mental Health

What comes to mind when you hear the words “mental health?”  Suicide? Abnormalities? People who have too many feelings or do not know how to handle the world? According to, Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is as important to our bodies and minds as physical health. In fact, I think that without good mental health, you will never obtain good physical health. Mental health issues vary from eating disorders, to anxiety and depression, to phobias and addictions. While some of these issues are rooted in our genetics, the environment and social atmosphere we surround ourselves in also play a crucial part in our mental health. 

In her TedTalk video, Heather Young Sarkis explains why it is important to discuss mental health. 43.8 million adults experience mental illness each year. This number is actually four million less than the 2019 population of the entire state of California. AN ENTIRE STATE OF PEOPLE, and the third largest state at that, all diagnosed with mental illness and there is still a large stigma around ‘mental health.’ She brings up a very good point; we have specific months and fundraisers for other health related topics but we are still scared to promote mental health. The entire month of October is dedicated to Breast Cancer awareness. You can sign up to run 5k’s for specific diseases, like pulmonary fibrosis, but what about supporting mental health, or even bringing awareness to it? Especially when it effects so many people.

I did a Google search for mental health awareness and was introduced to a new name; NAMI aka the National Alliance on Mental Illness. According to their website, NAMI joins the national movement to raise awareness about mental health every May. While many people are familiar with breast cancer awareness in October, the Susan G Komen foundation, is anyone aware that May is dedicated to mental illness? As someone who suffers from mental illness myself, this is news to me. The AHA, or American Hospital Association, also advertises May as Mental Health Awareness month. The National Council also shares this information, yet this is still the first time I am hearing about this. 


The first thing that comes with mental health awareness is simply an understanding for what it actually is, an illness out of someone’s control. From the perspective of a 20 something year old female who has been diagnosed with mental illness and sought treatment for almost 10 years, it still irks me to hear people say mental illness is in my control. That I can control my feelings, my moods, emotions, and the way the world makes me feel. That I can “let go,” or “move on,” or “stop letting it bother me.”  The simple truth of the matter is simply this; I cannot. I may seek help through a therapist or psychiatrist, I may take medication to even the chemicals in my brain, but it is still an ongoing issue I deal with everyday. Mental illness is an illness that follows you for life. Changing surroundings and the way our brain thinks can only do so much for certain people.  This article outlines six things NOT to say to a depressed person, and gives alternative ways of communicating.


Just like with anything else in life, it takes a specialized professional to diagnose mental health disorders and an even bigger professional to treat or cure them. Speaking from experience, it takes a lot of courage to open up to someone about how you are feeling. Now make that person a licensed professional in a closed room — speaking about your problems becomes almost impossible. When I say it takes a specialized professional, I do not mean someone who went to medical school and interned at different psychiatry offices. Often times it takes an empathetic individual to truly understands where we are coming from to make us feel comfortable. As mental illnesses continue to grow and occur, the need for mental health professionals is also growing. This article takes a closer look at what might be a shortage of mental health professionals in our country. With the ongoing pandemic, I can only imagine these numbers will steadily increase.



In 2017, a rapper known as Logic released a song titled with The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255. The song has over 1 billion streams on Spotify at the time of writing this (February 2021). For the first time in maybe forever, suicide and mental illness were trending in music charts. This song not only helped people suffering with mental illness and thoughts of suicide, but also brought awareness to the issue. While mental illness does not stop at suicide or depression, the song still made headlines and woke many people up, especially young adults and teenagers. I strongly encourage you to watch this video, where Logic explains the meaning behind his lyrics and the truth behind the song.  After the praise he received from the songs release, and all the fans who wrote to him saying he saved their life, he specifically states “I wasn’t even trying to save your life, now what could happen if I actually did?” He then went onto preform the song at the 2017 Video Music Awards (VMAs). After the performance, which included attempted suicide survivors, calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline increased by 50%.




I hope more artists and people in the spotlight can continue to bring awareness to these issues. Mental illness does not stop at suicide and depression. We must also advocate and support those suffering from OCD, ADHD, schizophrenia, bulimia, and everything else included in mental health. Mental health should be prioritized over everything else, and maybe once it is, the rest of our health and social behaviors will change as well. When you break your leg, you have a cast. When you have cancer, you might get chemo and experience hair loss. When you’re sad and your mind is racing, there is nothing to show. That does not mean there is nothing to see, it just means mental illness shows itself in different ways than other diseases, illnesses, or injuries. 


There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment

Skip to toolbar