Earlier this afternoon I was thinking about how I have noticed on social media and through my in-person interactions that the majority of people seem less happy... and when I say "less happy" I mean, discontent, self absorbed, and more concerned with looking good over feeling good internally.  As these thoughts began to pop up in my mind, I first remembered that at one point of my life, I too felt those same things yet never turned to any real solution to fix it. I remembered what got me to that dark place mentally and I also reflected on how I got myself out of that downward spiral thinking which is what I will be sharing with you in a bit...  After reflecting back on my past and feeling absolute gratitude for the mental space I am in today as opposed to the 'dark days', I realized that there are a lot of people out there suffering from sadness, an endless cycle of never feeling good enough, constantly comparing themselves to others, feeling worthless and purposeless, and it had me questioning if mental illness was on the rise. So, I typed into Google, "Is mental illness on the rise?"...  Guess what came up...?  Links after links of recent published articles on how mental illness is IN FACT on the rise. And as I clicked on a few articles and started skimming through the main points of each, I started to think about all of the people I know who struggle or who have struggled with their mental health, I thought about all of the people on social media who are nearly obsessed with their IG inspirations and comparing themselves to them. I thought about all of the people who silently struggle, all of the young teens who are trying to find their identity but unfortunately believe that they need to look like an IG model in order to be of value- I thought about all of these people.  My heart hurt for these people as not all that long ago I too was right there with them... and for a hot minute I felt hopeless myself in the sense that I felt like I wasn't doing my job well enough to put an end to all of this... so hence I am writing this with the intent to simply build awareness to this issue.  According to an article on the rise of teen mental illness published on psychologytoday.com, the past few years researchers have witnessed an escalation in particularly teen suicides and anxious, depressed, and  suicidal  students crowding college  counseling  centers (Center for Collegiate Mental  Health ).  So, how could this be even if we not only are living in a time period where opportunities to live healthier, happier lives are at a record high but we also have modern day medicine, counseling, and other resources to improve our mental health? Well, after doing some research and brainstorming my own thoughts as to why there is a rise in mental illness, I came up with these few answers (I could think of others but these are the main points)...   1.) Problem:  Like I mentioned earlier regarding social media, it can either be an enemy or a friend to the user.  For teens and kids, social media can be especially toxic, the reason being, kids already struggle finding themselves as is and when they log into social media a lot of content they see influences the idea that they are not good enough due to comparing appearances, personal belongings and in general, their lives to someone else's highlight reals; kids don't understand how to differentiate fake from real or know how to cope with emotional distress like adults can (keyword: CAN). However, adults too compare themselves far too often to other peoples best pictures which also can lead to depression and anxiety. Think about it... IF inside you have some parts of you that are in need of healing but you refuse to heal and in turn are longing for attention, gratification, and acceptance and you see someone with a larger following, a nicer body, ‘prettier’ face... what happens? One of two things... you don't get bothered or jealous over it (which is great but this post isn't geared to the "IDC" population) ... or... you do and you feel once again, low and worthless.  Solution: Spend some time away from your phone. Read a book, listen to a podcast episode, go outside, get some exercise- do SOMETHING productive and healthy for yourself instead of mindless and destructive.     2.) Problem:  Our culture has grown to be more concerned about how we look on the outside and less about feeling good internally. Why? Well, I don't actually know the exact answer as to  why  but I would think that it all comes down to the innate feeling in us humans to compete with others (derived from feeling fear, insecurity and lack of belonging) and by looking good on the outside it is making some type of statement to others that we are doing well in life, meanwhile, we are hiding what's really going on inside... so, how can anyone find the solution to this problem if they are  running  from their own problems...? They can't and I say this from experience.  Solution: God has created each of us uniquely to help lift others and glorify Him. If we are walking in His will, why would there be a need to compete with our 'neighbor'? I mean, if we were all to be walking in Gods will for our lives, we would look like a team, a unity- working towards the same goal rather than working against each other. But, the only way we can truly find His will for our lives is to begin and build an intimate relationship with Him. Then, once that happens, I am more than hopeful that He will restore and renew your mind.    3.) Problem:  The stigma. Yes, THE stigma. You know which one i'm talking about...  Society has looked down on mental illness as a character defect, a demon possession, or something that only "crazy", "too far gone" people have. I believe the stigma on this matter is being broken little by little (at least I am hopeful that it is) but regardless, the stigma still remains. If people think these things about those who are mentally ill, how could the person struggling with mental illness be able to get the help they needed if they are going to be shamed for their illness? Most likely they wouldn't even ask for help if they feared they would feel even lower than they did already. This is not okay.   If someone needs help with something, they shouldn't fear or question asking for help because of what might happen to them...   It is fair to say that the more people who suffer from mental illness, the more traumatic events occur. For example a mom who is too depressed to enjoy spending time with her kids. Then, the kids feel and pick up on the stress from mom and takes it on as their own. Depression and anxiety could then take place for the kid.  Solution: First it is important to treat everyone as if they are facing something you know nothing about because most likely the ones who seems a little “off" are in fact struggling with something that you may actually know nothing about. Compassion, kindness and love goes a long ways. Mental illness is just as real as disease is so be mindful of treating it as such. Second, if we want to put an end to the rise in mental illness then we need to first be willing to do something about it and then take action. We as people are here to build each other up not tear each other down. If you notice someone is struggling, offer them help or ask them how you can help them. I believe that we are in a time period where we need each other more than ever right now and by coming together, we can decrease the percentage of people who struggle or suffer from mental illness.   4.)  Problem:  We tend to put a label to everything. If there were to be someone who gets overly stressed every now and then explained to their psychiatrist this, the psychiatrist could diagnose this patient/ person with having a mental illness when really they are simply just stressed and need some coping skills to work with.  Solution: If we were to be careful of placing a label on our personal challenges/ complications and instead do our own research in looking for a solution, I believe we wouldn’t be claiming ourselves as mentally ill as much as we do.                

Earlier this afternoon I was thinking about how I have noticed on social media and through my in-person interactions that the majority of people seem less happy... and when I say "less happy" I mean, discontent, self absorbed, and more concerned with looking good over feeling good internally.

As these thoughts began to pop up in my mind, I first remembered that at one point of my life, I too felt those same things yet never turned to any real solution to fix it. I remembered what got me to that dark place mentally and I also reflected on how I got myself out of that downward spiral thinking which is what I will be sharing with you in a bit...

After reflecting back on my past and feeling absolute gratitude for the mental space I am in today as opposed to the 'dark days', I realized that there are a lot of people out there suffering from sadness, an endless cycle of never feeling good enough, constantly comparing themselves to others, feeling worthless and purposeless, and it had me questioning if mental illness was on the rise. So, I typed into Google, "Is mental illness on the rise?"...

Guess what came up...?

Links after links of recent published articles on how mental illness is IN FACT on the rise. And as I clicked on a few articles and started skimming through the main points of each, I started to think about all of the people I know who struggle or who have struggled with their mental health, I thought about all of the people on social media who are nearly obsessed with their IG inspirations and comparing themselves to them. I thought about all of the people who silently struggle, all of the young teens who are trying to find their identity but unfortunately believe that they need to look like an IG model in order to be of value- I thought about all of these people.

My heart hurt for these people as not all that long ago I too was right there with them... and for a hot minute I felt hopeless myself in the sense that I felt like I wasn't doing my job well enough to put an end to all of this... so hence I am writing this with the intent to simply build awareness to this issue.

According to an article on the rise of teen mental illness published on psychologytoday.com, the past few years researchers have witnessed an escalation in particularly teen suicides and anxious, depressed, and suicidal students crowding college counseling centers (Center for Collegiate Mental Health).

So, how could this be even if we not only are living in a time period where opportunities to live healthier, happier lives are at a record high but we also have modern day medicine, counseling, and other resources to improve our mental health? Well, after doing some research and brainstorming my own thoughts as to why there is a rise in mental illness, I came up with these few answers (I could think of others but these are the main points)...

1.) Problem: Like I mentioned earlier regarding social media, it can either be an enemy or a friend to the user.

For teens and kids, social media can be especially toxic, the reason being, kids already struggle finding themselves as is and when they log into social media a lot of content they see influences the idea that they are not good enough due to comparing appearances, personal belongings and in general, their lives to someone else's highlight reals; kids don't understand how to differentiate fake from real or know how to cope with emotional distress like adults can (keyword: CAN). However, adults too compare themselves far too often to other peoples best pictures which also can lead to depression and anxiety. Think about it... IF inside you have some parts of you that are in need of healing but you refuse to heal and in turn are longing for attention, gratification, and acceptance and you see someone with a larger following, a nicer body, ‘prettier’ face... what happens? One of two things... you don't get bothered or jealous over it (which is great but this post isn't geared to the "IDC" population) ... or... you do and you feel once again, low and worthless. Solution: Spend some time away from your phone. Read a book, listen to a podcast episode, go outside, get some exercise- do SOMETHING productive and healthy for yourself instead of mindless and destructive. 

2.) Problem: Our culture has grown to be more concerned about how we look on the outside and less about feeling good internally. Why? Well, I don't actually know the exact answer as to why but I would think that it all comes down to the innate feeling in us humans to compete with others (derived from feeling fear, insecurity and lack of belonging) and by looking good on the outside it is making some type of statement to others that we are doing well in life, meanwhile, we are hiding what's really going on inside... so, how can anyone find the solution to this problem if they are running from their own problems...? They can't and I say this from experience. Solution: God has created each of us uniquely to help lift others and glorify Him. If we are walking in His will, why would there be a need to compete with our 'neighbor'? I mean, if we were all to be walking in Gods will for our lives, we would look like a team, a unity- working towards the same goal rather than working against each other. But, the only way we can truly find His will for our lives is to begin and build an intimate relationship with Him. Then, once that happens, I am more than hopeful that He will restore and renew your mind.

3.) Problem: The stigma. Yes, THE stigma. You know which one i'm talking about...

Society has looked down on mental illness as a character defect, a demon possession, or something that only "crazy", "too far gone" people have. I believe the stigma on this matter is being broken little by little (at least I am hopeful that it is) but regardless, the stigma still remains. If people think these things about those who are mentally ill, how could the person struggling with mental illness be able to get the help they needed if they are going to be shamed for their illness? Most likely they wouldn't even ask for help if they feared they would feel even lower than they did already. This is not okay. If someone needs help with something, they shouldn't fear or question asking for help because of what might happen to them...

It is fair to say that the more people who suffer from mental illness, the more traumatic events occur. For example a mom who is too depressed to enjoy spending time with her kids. Then, the kids feel and pick up on the stress from mom and takes it on as their own. Depression and anxiety could then take place for the kid. Solution: First it is important to treat everyone as if they are facing something you know nothing about because most likely the ones who seems a little “off" are in fact struggling with something that you may actually know nothing about. Compassion, kindness and love goes a long ways. Mental illness is just as real as disease is so be mindful of treating it as such. Second, if we want to put an end to the rise in mental illness then we need to first be willing to do something about it and then take action. We as people are here to build each other up not tear each other down. If you notice someone is struggling, offer them help or ask them how you can help them. I believe that we are in a time period where we need each other more than ever right now and by coming together, we can decrease the percentage of people who struggle or suffer from mental illness.

4.) Problem: We tend to put a label to everything. If there were to be someone who gets overly stressed every now and then explained to their psychiatrist this, the psychiatrist could diagnose this patient/ person with having a mental illness when really they are simply just stressed and need some coping skills to work with. Solution: If we were to be careful of placing a label on our personal challenges/ complications and instead do our own research in looking for a solution, I believe we wouldn’t be claiming ourselves as mentally ill as much as we do.