Mental Health Awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health awareness is not only an opportunity to do a self-check on what ways you could improve upon your mental health, but also to look at those around you. How could you support those around you, whether on an individual level or community level? Maybe asking a friend to join on a community walk for awareness where you’re getting exercise, giving back, and being involved in community. All great ways to support yourself and others.
 
Today, there is still an internal and cultural stigma surrounding issues of mental health that could impact an individual’s motivation for even reaching out for help.

I recently watched a mental health awareness video featuring a college athlete who shared about his struggles with depression that started at a young age and went undiagnosed and untreated for many years until it reached a peak when he was performing at a high level in college, and then the pandemic hit. In his environment, he discussed feeling a stigma of being perceived as weak as a high performing male athlete. Because he struggled mentally meant he thought he was not strong, brave, resilient, etc. He shared that when he lost his interest in playing the sport he loved, he could no longer suffer in silence. He spoke about how while he willingly asked the school to meet with a therapist, it still took him two months of therapy to shed the “I’m fine” response to his therapist.

This is a life experience many can relate to, a fear of stigma in your place of work, social circle, or family life. We all make assumptions about issues of mental health and make judgements, so start by examining your own preconceived ideas about mental health. This can help you to better understand and work against stigmas.
 
And even if you are not currently experiencing significant symptoms, mental health is not just about treating symptoms but supporting your overall mental wellness. In what ways do you support your mental health? Our mental health is another aspect of ourselves just like our physical health, so let’s take care of it and make little changes. Let’s shed light on what we all experience but at different levels in amount and length of time.

A couple tips to try, depending on where you are at in your experience, could be to do a “blackout day” of no screens (or limiting technology to calls only) and do other things like a board game, get out in nature, bake something, or practice an instrument. Write a note to a friend who you know is having a hard time, leave a treat for them, or invite them on a walk.

If you would like to set up a time to talk with a therapist, please reach out to lisa@kkjpsych.com for appointments and availability.

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