Mental health. It’s a topic we hear more about in the past few years and that’s a beautiful thing. Too often there’s a stigma attached to it, to counseling or any form of self help. That mentality is dangerous and toxic. To perceive help and support as a weakness or strange will place a roadblock in front of any form of wellness or progress being pursued. That’s unfair. As adults we must set the example and provide the dialogue to send a message that mental health is real and ok to talk about. Making mental health approachable, definable and a priority is critical. The more we chat, the better off we are individually and as a whole. Kind of cool isn’t it?
What the heck?
Our daily responsibilities can be daunting. Super daunting. Throw in the presence of anxiety, ocd or any other form of mental illness and it can feel like we are on empty. Like there is no more left to give. Too often we can feel the weight of society or our loved ones on our shoulders. What will they think if they knew what I was struggling with? Would they look at me differently? Too many of us place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. This can easily trickle down on the ones we love where they continue this cycle. Self care, self help and making ourselves a priority is crazy important. They influence not only how we handle life, but it’s quality.
That reality is unfair to ourselves and the ones we love. Whether we struggle with anxiety, ocd, bi-polar, depression or whatever other form of mental illness we have to fight to not allow these titles to define us or to be perceived as a scarlet letter embossed on our chest. That goes for those we love as well. Sometimes they can feel too tired to fight to remove that stigma and approachability. When we step forward and become more comfortable it helps them.
Making mental health approachable, definable and a priority…
So what the heck does that mean? Everything is about small steps to get us further along over time. Here are a few ideas in making this happen:
- If you have a history of mental health in your family, do your research amongst family members and know what this looks like. An important approach to avoid anyone feeling like the black sheep or that there is a negative stigma is in talking about some of the signs may be and that if help is needed that’s ok and a good thing.
- If you have been to a counselor feel free to talk about your experience with it (this doesn’t mean you’re talking about what you were talking about) where counseling and help are not viewed as weird or off limits to anyone in the family.
- Whether a situation on tv, a movie or in everyday life pops up where mental health is visible use that as a platform for discussion. What do they think about the situation? What would they do if they or someone they cared for felt that way? Are they comfortable to chat with someone if needed?
Let’s chat, baby!
I had the opportunity to chat with over 300 teachers and faculty of a South Jersey High School last week. The topic? Mental health and wellness. To chaat with teaching staff on the last day of their school year is a task in itself. Why? Everyone is tired. Every single person just simply wants to go home. After 180+ days of burning the candle at both ends they are tired and ready to recharge. Education is one of the most challenging gigs you can have. It’s a job that isn’t for the faint of heart.
Too often as parents, educators, business people, stay at home parents or whatever title you may wear we place ourselves on the back burner. Way, way back on the burner. We can feel that to take time for us is unnecessary and just simply adding one more thing to an already long list. But you know what? In order for us to be stronger and more effective in ALL of the roles we assume being balanced and maintaining our wellness and mental health is critical. It has to happen.
To be that parent, professional or whoever in super hero mode does more harm than good. It’s ok to be human. It’s ok to be flawed. You know what? When we are more transparent and we pursue self care and wellness it has a trickle effect. We influence others in a positive way. How cool is that?
Be the change…
Our efforts matter as do how we decide to approach mental health. With the vibe of flip flops, sun and summer goodness approaching use it as an opportunity for self care. It’s too easy for summer to be eleven weeks that fly by where we are once again on the back burner. Remind yourself you are worth it. Remind yourself your progress will only make you and those around you better off. You can do it.
I wish you a fantastic week of peace, love and goodness!