I spend most days talking about mental health. I am a therapist, and people come to talk to me, often when they have no where else to turn. They tell me (hopefully a nice, objective stranger) things that they cannot say to their spouse, their friend, their mother.
The question is why it is so hard to talk about how we feel and why it is so hard to be open about what we are going through?
My guess: We don’t want to tell others if we are depressed; they might think we are weak. We don’t want to tell others how anxious we are; they might think we are neurotic. So we stay silent, and feel lonely and isolated.
Today is a day to break that silence. #BellLetsTalk
The irony, of course, is that most people will experience a time of mental health challenge at some point or other in their lives. If they don’t, they will know and love someone who does.
So why the silence? We still get hung up on the stigma associated with mental health. It is time to talk about mental health and debunk the myths. We need to stop using derogatory language to describe mental illness. To say someone is off on “crazy time” instead of medical leave is both hurtful and inaccurate. To blame someone for the way they feel is misinformed and guilt-inducing. To suggest that taking antidepressants is a sign of weakness is simplistic and unhelpful.
We need more positive messaging:
Seeking help is a sign of strength
Having the courage to admit that something is not quite right in our lives and that we are in need of support is one of the best things you can do for yourself. The type of help looks different for each person, but might include talking to a friend or co-worker, accessing services offered through your employer, talking to your family doctor or going to see a therapist.
Taking properly prescibed medication can make all the difference
There is no shame in taking the medication prescibed by your doctor. Would you chide a diabetic because they need insulin? Of course not! Medications play a role for many people in managing their mental health and it is important to be supportive of that option.
Self-care is essential
Sometimes what we need to do to stay healthy – exercise, meditate, eat healthily, get enough sleep – are things that others criticize or look down on. People can be accused of being selfish because they need time to themselves to recharge or relax. Let’s remind everyone, no matter who they are, that caring for ourselves is essential to our well-being and gives us the energy to care for others, too.
So speak up! Let’s speak positively about mental health.
#BellLetsTalk On January 25th, Bell will donate $0.05 for every tweet, text, and message to mental health initiatives