FRAZIER: Mental health is as important as physical health

Published 4:00 am Saturday, July 31, 2021

I have written several columns pertaining to mental health — and it’s not just because hubby is a counselor. 

I was an advocate before we met. 

I had gone through some dark days and knew firsthand how important it was to seek out help. But there are so many who are still afraid and caught up in the undue stigma of mental health that they continue to suffer in silence. 

I wonder if this will begin to change after Olympian Simone Biles made the daring move to forego competing in the women’s all-around gymnastic competition because she felt like her mental health took precedence over vying for a gold medal? 

There have been other celebrities that have spoken out about the challenges they have experienced with their mental health, even Olympian Michael Phelps. 

But Biles has gone one step further than most. Not only has she put mental health front and center on a world stage, but she has also shown all of us, what is most important: our well-being. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. 

And due to the pandemic, depression, and anxiety, which is the number one mental health concern, is being amplified. 

According to weforum.org, anxiety disorders can follow different courses, but the most commonly experienced symptoms include:  

  • Apprehension: worrying about future misfortunes, feeling on edge, having difficulty concentrating 
  • Motor tension: restlessness and fidgeting, tension headaches, trembling, inability to relax 
  • Autonomic overactivity: lightheadedness, sweating, abnormally high heart rate (tachycardia) or abnormally rapid breathing (tachypnoea), pain in the upper abdomen (epigastric discomfort), dizziness and dry mouth.  

Symptoms of depression can include: 

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood 
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism 
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities 
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions 
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening or oversleeping 
  • Low appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain 
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts 
  • Restlessness, irritability 
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and pain for which no other cause can be diagnosed. 

If anyone is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor or a medical professional. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as attending to your physical health. 

We don’t know what Biles is dealing with mentally. But we do know she definitely had her own dark days after being victimized by the former USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. The pressures of performing at the level she has set for herself could also have become overwhelming. 

Whatever her challenges may be, it is encouraging to witness a young, celebrated athlete demonstrate the strength to recognize the importance of taking care of both body and mind. 

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

email author More by Terri Cowart