A BYU professor shares three strategies for dealing with mental health: say something, know something, and be something.
At the forum, BYU Public Health Professor Carl L. Hanson described how these practices can help improve anyone’s mental health, as well as the important distinction between mental health and mental illness.
Hanson emphasized that while the terms mental health and mental illness are often used interchangeably, the phrases do not mean the same thing. In order to discuss mental health, people need to say something about mental illness.
“Mental health is not just the opposite of mental illness,” Hanson said. “Mental health exists in its own way, and we can thrive and achieve optimal mental health or languish whether or not we are diagnosed with a mental disorder.”
Hanson explained that everyone has a responsibility to talk about mental health and mental illness in clear terms so others can better understand how to help people in the community.
“Talking about mental illness can help us reduce the stigma or negative perception of people with mental illness,” Hanson said.
In accordance with America’s Mental Health, more than half of US adults and half of Utah residents with mental illness do not receive the help they need. Hanson referred to a research which showed that suicidal thoughts among college students have increased by 64% since 2013. This study also found that more than 600 people die by suicide in Utah each year.
Hanson said some of the factors contributing to the suicide rate include “lack of access to mental health care due to lack of insurance, fewer options for service providers, the cost of health care and the personal choice not to use services due to stigma. for treatment”.
Suicide is not a mental disorder in itself, Hanson stressed — rather, mental disorders are causes of suicide. He urged everyone to look for ways to support solutions and prevent suicide.
New National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by calling 988 and SafeUT application is available to help Utah residents.
To know something
Hanson said there are many different root causes of mental illness, and those causes generally fall into two categories: risk factors and protective factors.
“Risk factors are things that make it more likely that a person will have a problem,” Hanson said. “Protective factors are those things that reduce risk and are often just the opposite of a risk factor.”
Examples of risk factors include perfectionistic relationships and childhood trauma, Hanson said, while an example of a protective factor is healthy relationships, which research has shown help mitigate some risk factors.
“Much of this work points to the strong influence of context and our interactions with others in settings such as homes, schools and communities,” Hanson said.
To be something
Saying and knowing something about mental health doesn’t lead people to great mental health without actually being something, according to Hanson. “In order to achieve optimal mental health, to be at our best and to thrive, we also have to be something,” Hanson said.
He explained that focusing on self-improvement while accepting failure will lead to better overall mental health. Hanson also emphasized that a general sense of well-being, otherwise known as “sane well-being,” will help people and their peers improve their mental health.
“If we become wise in the field of wellness, seeing wellness as an opportunity for the whole person, we will not only be able to solve personal problems and changes, but we will also empower others in the tasks of home and family life, social relationships, civic duty and service to humanity.” said Hanson, quoted The mission of BYU.