Mental health and media

Mental health and media

Mental health and media, Today’s topic is gonna be about mental health and its rise in popularity across all sorts of media. Most of the articles coming out recently have been really focused on destigmatizing mental health issues, getting people to see their doctor and talk about their emotions, focusing not only on their physical health but their mental health and all of these intentions are great. But the problem is that within life good intentions don’t necessarily all the time lead to good outcomes. Is mental health being destigmatized? Or are we feeling more anxiety about anxiety by constantly covering these stories, overanalyzing what Selena Gomez is feeling based on outward perceptions. A lot of my patients have been coming in, self-diagnosing themselves with a disorder when they are actually feeling normal feelings to maybe difficult situations. Some patients end up self-medicating. Medications are dangerous, they have side effects, they need to be carefully monitored. Also at times, they self-medicate with elicit substances like illegal drugs or alcohol and I have to spend a lot of time trying to convince my patients that their anxiety that they feel in a given situation is totally appropriate and they don’t have a disorder.

 In the field of mental health, professionals like myself, family medicine doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, we understand the complexity of making a mental health diagnosis. There’s a lot of overlap that happens. We have to rule out medical conditions to make sure there’s nothing wrong with their thyroid for example. We have to rule out substance use disorder, that they’re just not feeling anxious or nervous because of cocaine or alcohol or marijuana. That process takes multiple visits. It takes a line of questioning by a professional who’s trained in this type of questioning. But what I’ve seen lately in the media is people talking about mental health irresponsibly, even a series very popular on YouTube by Shane Dawson. I don’t like speculating about his intentions.

 I like to assume that he had positive intentions to make a healthy conversation around mental health and get people interested about it. Instead of getting help for someone, instead of explaining this complex process of what it takes to go see a therapist, to go see a doctor and the stages of how a doctor makes a diagnosis, they created a very clickbaity, fun, sensationalist version of what it takes to talk about mental health. I very much urge people, if you’re trying to make a mental health video, be responsible with it. Understand that even if you have good intentions, it can lead to bad outcomes. I’m not saying that this is what’s gonna happen. I’m saying that I have a fear that this may happen. Another thing that I wanted to talk to you about is some folks who say when you have mental illness, that you should just suck it up and you should just get over it and stop whining. That’s incorrect. Obviously, I totally disagree with that sort of method but I do think that there is some level of personal responsibility that they need to take upon themselves. In fact, what we’ve seen with phobias or obsessive compulsive disorders is that exposure is actually curative, it helps. So have that level of personal responsibility where you challenge yourself and you don’t use your mental condition as a handicap that’s preventing you from being the top and most amazing person that you can be. If you’re concerned about your mental health, go have a conversation with a professional whether that means a primary care doctor or a mental health specialist, that conversation has to start somewhere and remember, our job is not to make you permanently happy or to remove all feelings of sadness and nervousness.

 In fact, you should feel sad at times. It’s appropriate to be nervous at times and again on the same side, it’s not appropriate to always be happy. In fact, the way that the mind works, it’s a compare and contrast mechanism. You only know when something’s hot when you can compare it to something that’s cold. It’s about having a good baseline about coming back to that baseline and feeling balanced. This by no means is a comprehensive mental health video. But I’ve seen such an uptick on the news in covering this, some of it done irresponsibly and we need to understand that nuance is important, minute details can be incredibly important and if we’re honest about it and we have trained experts talking about these conditions, then we can have an honest conversation when we’re actually doing some good. And most importantly, we look at the outcomes to see if they match our initial intentions. I want this to be an ongoing series where we can have a conversation so jump into the comment section, hit subscribe, hit that notification bell and most importantly, stay happy and healthy.   

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