Since the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the number of people experiencing mental health concerns. The influx has drawn main-stream attention and helped bring awareness to the importance of mental health.
Since the pandemic, many of us have made healthy lifestyle changes to proactively nurture our mental and physical health through diet, exercise, social relationships, and the practice of stress-reducing techniques and coping skills. However, we are also paying more attention to the psychological well-being of those we love - like friends, family, and co-workers. This mental health focus is prompting exciting changes in the mental health community and beyond!
A shift is taking place in our country, in which the stigma that has always surrounded mental health is beginning to fade. (Hooray!) As a society, we are beginning to understand and accept the vital and dependent relationship between mental and physical health, and progressively adopting a culture of “whole health”- encompassing body and mind as one. Under the whole health ideology … In order to achieve true wellness, one must care for the health of BOTH the BODY AND MIND. It makes perfect sense, right?!
The whole health culture has been instrumental in changing the way we view mental health, promoting equality between physical and mental illness. By not separating mind from body, it removes prejudice - “mental health concerns” become “health concerns” This concept helps to ease conversations about mental health– breaking down barriers and helping to normalize conversations about mental health issues. And, while this is a big step forward for mental health awareness and advocacy in America, we still have a long way to go.
So, how can we continue this forward momentum? Let’s talk about it. Literally!
Talk Openly About Mental Health. It’s perfectly normal to talk with friends about seeing a doctor for a sore throat or sprained ankle, so why should it be any different to discuss seeing a therapist when you’re suffering with a mental health concern? Speaking openly about your own mental health struggles, can help to normalize conversations about mental health and create an atmosphere of openness and trust for others to feel safe in sharing their own mental health concerns.
Be Direct. When concerned about a loved one’s mental health, ask questions. Listen intently, keep open body posture, show empathy, and maintain appropriate eye contact to create a safe environment for them to share their thoughts and feelings. Hesitating only adds to the stigma that mental health is a taboo topic.
Be Conscious of Language. Many people use mental health conditions as negative adjectives to describe people, things, and behaviors that they think are different. Though most likely not intended to be offensive, speaking in this way only feeds the stigma surrounding mental health. Not to mention, creates an air of judgment and discomfort for anyone within earshot that may be struggling with mental health issues of their own.
Educate Yourself and Others. Just as there are many types of cancer (for example), there are many mental health conditions, each with their own set of unique symptoms, behaviors, and treatment. Do some research and share what you learn with others. This helps foster equality between physical and mental illness.
Talking About Your Own Mental Health
Talking With Others About Their Mental Health
Seize The Awkward Video Resources
Listen without judgement
Ask "how can I help?"
Let them know you care
Validate their feelings
Tell them you want to hear - that they're not a burden
Listen with the intention to understand, not fix
Ask when you have time listen
Keep in touch even if you get no response
Interrupt or speak over
Tell them how they should feel
Jump in with solutions
Belittle their feelings
Pressure them to speak
Tell them the illness or feelings they have are a choice
Say "you just need to.." (it's not that simple)
Diagnose them when you're not qualified
Leave them out
Be scared to speak about feelings
Be critical or blaming