3 Reasons You’re Not Crazy for Caring About Your Mental Health

By Lauren Hall
March 15, 2024
Anxious girl

One of my friends just ended a long-term relationship with a woman he really cared about because they weren’t on the same page about mental health. 

My friend carries wounds from an emotionally abusive parent and PTSD from years of active military service. The woman he was in a relationship with had two children. 

As they were taking steps toward marriage, he suggested they go to therapy together to work through some things and create as stable a foundation as possible for their family. “I’m sorry you think I’m crazy,” she responded. After a few more conversations, the couple decided to call it quits and go their separate ways.

Tomorrow is May 1, the first day of Mental Health Awareness Month. While the COVID-19 pandemic spurred 1 in 6 Americans to begin seeing a therapist for the first time, the stigma around mental health and therapy remains strong.  

A 2021 survey published by Forbes revealed 47% of Americans believe “seeking therapy is a sign of weakness.” 

As someone who has seen the effects of mental health on marriages, parent/child relationships, families, and communities at large, I couldn’t let Mental Health Awareness Month come and go without drawing attention to the significant impact it has on us all, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

To my newly single friend who took a stand, here are three reasons why you’re not crazy for caring about your mental health:

1: Mental health impacts your quality of life.

When your mental health is strong, you can enjoy life, stay positive, and regulate emotions. You’re more productive, more motivated, and more capable of positively impacting the people around you. 

You have a heightened ability to cope with stressful situations, overcome challenges and reflect a positive attitude. When your mental health weakens, you can easily become stuck in cycles of negative thinking and self-doubt.

2: Mental health impacts physical health.

Studies also show that when you’re struggling with mental health, your immune system becomes compromised. (Which means you’re more vulnerable to getting sick.) On an even bigger scale, studies show that mental health issues are linked to a higher risk of strokes, heart attacks, and certain types of cancers.

3: Mental health impacts relationships for generations to come.

When parents or caregivers carry unaddressed (or even under-addressed) mental health issues, these same issues are more likely to be passed down to the child. 

While several studies have shown mental health issues, disorders, and illnesses to be genetic, environmental factors and parental/caregiver connection highly impact the probability of a child developing mental health issues at some point during their life. 

In 2021, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported 44% of teens ages 12 to 17 said they felt “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.”

This was up from 26% in 2009. In the same research, the CDC found “youth who feel connected… at home were found to be as much as 66% less likely to experience health risk behaviors related to… mental health in adulthood.” 

It’s easy to assess the risk of not taking care of our physical health. What’s at stake if you don’t eat well or exercise regularly? You’ll gain weight, have high blood pressure, develop chronic illnesses, shortened lifespan, etc. 

If you’re a skeptic as to whether or not seeking help for your mental health is a sign of weakness, answer this question: What’s at stake if you don’t?

Lauren Hall is the President and CEO of First Things First and can be contacted at [email protected].

Photo by Joice Kelly on Unsplash

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