Mental health is a critical aspect of our overall wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and behave, and when we don’t invest in our mental health, it can have a lasting and significant impact on our physical health as well. Mental health awareness is essential in creating a society that promotes the emotional and mental wellbeing of all individuals, no matter their background or circumstance. This article will explore the importance of breaking the stigma around mental health awareness and promoting mental health and overall wellbeing in our communities.
1. Understanding Mental Health: Exploring the Stigma
The Reality of Mental Health Stigma
No one should feel ashamed of having a mental illness. Unfortunately, in a world where we “read the room” and try to fit in and stay relevant, we don’t always practice what we preach. Mental health stigma still exists in our society and it’s something that we must be aware of and work to reduce.
Knowing how to recognize mental health stigma is essential in dismantling it. Mental health stigma can take shape in several ways:
- Discrimination: Different treatment based on mental illness
- Stereotypes: Negative connotations associated with people with mental illnesses
- Ignorance: Uneducated or uninformed views on mental health
- Prejudice: A biased view on people with mental illnesses that can be reflected in discriminatory behaviors
The problem is that mental health stigma is a huge barrier to people seeking the help and support they need. While many people want to address these issues and provide support, they are afraid to do so; mental illness is still seen as a taboo, something to be swept under the rug, forgotten.
One of the most effective ways to overcome mental health stigma is to talk about it. This means being vocal and brave enough to discuss it with people without judging or ridiculing them. Create a platform for people who are suffering to come forward without fear of being judged or misunderstood. Listening to their stories and treating them with respect and care can go a long way towards conquering this stigma.
In addition to talking about mental health, raising awareness by talking to school age children and teenagers is also essential. Educating the younger generations on mental health and its risks can help create a society where mental illness is no longer seen as something to be ashamed of or hidden from.
2. Taking Action to Promote Mental Well-being
Know Your Boundaries
It’s important to know your mental and physical health boundaries, so that you can take preventive action before your health is at risk. Understand what sparks negative feelings and triggers tiredness. Pay attention to those moments when you feel your emotions going out of balance. Set aside time for yourself each day and have moments of reflection or even relaxation.
Maintain a Positive Outlook
Channelling a positive viewpoint and outlook on life, can help you to have a healthier mental life. Take a few minutes each day to reflect on what you are grateful for in your life. Remind yourself that darkness fades and gratitude can keep the tough times in perspective. Making it a routine to smile and show kindness to those around us can help to keep a positive mindset.
Enjoy Your Interests
Finding something that you love doing and working on that every day or as frequently as possible can boost your joy. It could be anything from launching an Instagram page to engage a small community, to taking up sewing or writing. It could also be as simple as going to the park and engaging in some physical activity. When it comes to hobbies, there are endless possibilities that can help you stay centered and express yourself!
It is beneficial to surround yourself with people who support your mental health and can help process your negative feelings. Speaking out relieves pressure. When you’re stuck in a situation, talking about it can help find new possibilities and insights. Finding someone who is willing to listen and who provides understanding and advice can be beneficial to those difficult moments.
Seek Professional Assistance
At times it is important to seek professional help to aid in our mental well-being. A licensed therapist or healthcare professional can provide more clarity and insight. If you notice a significant change in your emotions and are looking for additional support, a mental health professional would be the right person to turn to.
3. Breaking the Silence Around Mental Health
Mental health has long been spoken about in hushed whispers, but gradually more and more people are buidling up the courage to open up about this still somewhat taboo subject. And it’s never been more important to do so – mental health affects us all, and talking about it openly reduces the stigma that can be so incredibly damaging. Here’s why it’s so essential to break the silence around mental health.
- It can help to remove the shame associated with mental health issues. Everyone experiences difficulties sometimes, and by talking openly and candidly about it we can help to normalise these natural occurrences. No one needs to feel ashamed about their mental and emotional struggles.
- It may encourage those with mental health conditions to seek help. So often, those who are suffering don’t feel comfortable asking for support, and many who may be in need of help don’t even know how or where to get it. By being vocal about mental illness, we can show those who are struggling that help and treatment is available.
- It allows people to raise awareness and discuss solutions. Mental health conditions can range from mild to severe, yet often people don’t understand the full implications. It’s only by talking openly that we can create a support system that really meets the needs of those affected.
is a powerful way to reduce the stigma associated with it. By becoming more educated about mental illness and talking candidly about it, we can create an accepting environment for those who need it.
Moving the conversation forward takes courage – courage that we’re all capable of. Let’s make it our mission to ensure that mental health is spoken about openly and respectfully, from the playground to the boardroom, and beyond.
4. Learning to Live an Authentic Life with Mental Health Challenges
Learn to Love Yourself
Living with mental health challenges doesn’t have to be a source of despair and stagnation. You can learn to enjoy life and find meaningful connections despite the daily peaks and troughs. Rather than focusing on ‘coping’ with your mental health challenges, it’s important to focus on loving and accepting yourself. This self-love is the foundation for living an authentic life.
Change Your Thoughts
When you’re struggling with mental health issues it can be difficult to escape the cyclical, negative thought patterns. Through mindful awareness, though, you can start to recognize these patterns and bring yourself back to a more productive and positive outlook. You can also use methods such as reframing and self-talk to learn how to challenge and redirect these thoughts in a productive manner.
Have Realistic Expectations
It’s important to build realistic expectations for yourself. Understand that you may not be able to do everything, and that’s okay. Know that it’s okay to take things slowly, and that it’s ok to disappoint yourself some of the time – this is a necessary part of the journey.
Dealing with mental health challenges can leave you feeling very isolated and sometimes desperate. Find support in the form of:
- Friends and family who understand
- Groups of like-minded individuals
- Crisis hotlines
- Therapeutic treatment options
- Online communities
Find Meaning in Life
Living with mental health challenges doesn’t mean that your life needs to be devoid of purpose and drive. Find passions and hobbies that stir something in you, and that bring meaning to life. Pursue your ambitions and goals, no matter how small they may seem. Life with mental health issues can still be full and meaningful – it just takes the courage to reach out and take charge of your life.
Mental health awareness requires more than just talk – it requires action to break the stigma and promote well-being. We must create an open dialogue which encourages empathy and understanding, so that individuals seek help without judgement or fear. By showing compassion and embracing the strength found in vulnerability, we can continue to craft an environment more conducive to healthy minds and hearts. It starts with us.