Annual Mental Health Exam

by Swiyyah Nadirah Muhammad

priority-mental-healthI’ve been saying for 10 years, there should be an annual mental health exam done on all children starting at the age of eight.  We all get physical exams yearly but because of the stigma on mental health we do not get mental exams.  I studied Psychology at the University of South FL and I believe in what one of my professors taught.  Many children experience neurotic disorders at a young age including anxiety and depression.  If these disorders go without treatment they can form into psychotic disorders.  When I was eight I experienced anxiety brought on by being molested by my brother.  I did not tell anyone about my illness.  I do believe if I would of seeked counseling at age eight my disorder would have never become psychotic.  Now I have paranoid schizophrenia.  I experienced warning signs of mental illness but at the time I was not educated to know they were warning signs.  The warning signs of schizophrenia are not caring to make friends, having slurred speech, and having a family history of mental illness.  I would advice all adults to talk to their children early about mental illness.  Ask questions. Encourage them to share their experience with mental illness.  If you’re an adult who had experienced mental illness at a young age, talk to your children about it. Ask them if they are experiencing any signs of mental illness.  The only way to end this stigma is for everyone to start sharing their stories, especially the celebrities because we look up to them.  The fear many have is that if they share their experience with mental illness they will lose their fan base, when actually they will grow more fans because people will be able to relate to them.  Forty nine percent of Americans will experience a mental illness at least once in their life.  The most common is depression and anxiety.

About the author: Swiyyah Nadirah Muhammad is an author and motivational speaker.  Her book is called Don’t Call Me Crazy! I’m Just in Love and it is required reading at SPC College and several high schools.  To book Swiyyah for your next event or for radio and television interviews, contact her at 727-776-0291.

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