Mental Health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can contribute to his or her community” (WHO, 2001). Mental Health is made up of three components which include: emotional well-being, psychological well-being, and social well-being (CDC, 2013). Mental Health is an essential part of our lives, and just like we exercise to maintain our physical health, we must practice different strategies to maintain and strengthen our mental health. The problem with sustaining and improving our mental health is that starting when we are young we are socialized to believe that mental illness and emotional health are undervalued forms of illness. Individuals who have mental illness face the stigmas associated with receiving a diagnosis, which impacts their decision to seek out treatments. For some reason as humans, it is easier for us to accept that our bodies can be hurt than it is to think about our brains and our minds falling ill. The reality is though that the brain is an organ just like any other organ in your body and it can become sick. So How do we prevent our brains from becoming sick? What can we do to change the way society views mental illness and emotional health?
Part of my background at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), was working as a Head/Community Assistant (H/CA) for the Office of Housing Residential Living and Dining (OHRLD). Part of that experience was week-long training that would prepare us for what we would encounter when we were working in the residential facilities. It was there in those training sessions, specifically the diversity rounds, where I was exposed to what is known as the “Pyramid of Hate.”
Pyramid of Hate
*** Originally Published on Engaged Sociology by IUP Department of Sociology***
Author Note: ***Before I begin the paper I want to introduce a case study about a fictional boy named Max. I want to emphasize that this story is a fictional case study created to show how childhood trauma impacts an individual’s development, it will be referred to throughout the paper several times. ***
Max’s story is one that I hold close to my heart because Max is this kid who grew up to be an amazing person. Despite the adversity that he faced he decided to dedicate his life to service and education. When people look at Max today, they see the exact person I described to you; they would never guess for one second that Max was someone who had grown up in a dysfunctional family, experiencing childhood trauma. They tell Max about how good of a person he is, and about all of the good things that he has done, and they praise him for his accomplishments. However, Max does not feel like he accomplished anything. When he hears these praises, he feels numb. He feels like his work, no matter how great it was, wasn’t as good as the other people around him. To understand why Max felt this way we need to look at a few events in Max’s life starting with things that happened while Max was in school.