Mental Health: All Trend, No Real Action
I wanted to take this time and check in on all of you, my readers, and see how you’re feeling and coping with life these days. The start to any new year is tough normally but in today's climate, it can be even more depressing than usual. But, no matter what type of season you’re in right now, always remember that it's important to take time out for self-care and be easy on yourself. In these times, it's also important to remember that it's okay not to be okay.
It's okay to have those days when you feel like you can't get out of bed or the days when you just want to curl up and cry. It's all part of the journey.
As we move forward, I want to remind myself and all of you that we need to keep pushing for that tomorrow, no matter what! We need to keep moving forward at all costs, especially when things get tough. When those dark voices come (and they will, they always do), have faith and know that yours can be much louder. We are strong and absolutely capable of overcoming any obstacle that comes our way, no matter what the darkness tells us. It's a lie!
For those of you who follow me on my many journeys on this blog, you already know that it’s customary for me to ask this, and I hope that it's a habit for all of you to check in on your people also.
Lately, I've been feeling a bit frustrated with the way that society approaches mental health. It seems like there are specific days or moments when people are encouraged to talk about mental health, like "World Mental Health Day," "Bell Let’s Talk Day," or other events. It should be something we think about and talk about every day, not just specific days or moments.
It pisses me off that on one end, the world uses mental health as its crutch to explain away horrific things like crime and injustice, and then in the same breath (when it suits people), we have "special days" dedicated to how sorry everyone is that people suffer from this sort of thing. For one minute, everyone wants to round us all up and put us on an island somewhere, so we can’t hurt anyone but ourselves, and then a minute later, in the same breath, you’re speaking empathetically, mourning a person who dies by suicide because perhaps they’re famous.
It feels like mental health is becoming a trend, something that's only trendy when society says it is. It's like mental health is becoming a fashion thing or something. But it's not a trend; it's something that affects so many of us, and it's important to have open and honest conversations about it all the time. We would never do this with cancer or MS, so why do we do it with mental health? When are we going to wake up and realize once and for all that mental health IS physical health and that they are all interconnected?
I understand that having designated days or moments to talk about mental health can be helpful for raising awareness, but it's important that we don't just put it on a shelf and forget about it until the next designated mental health moment. It's important to make mental health a daily conversation and prioritize self-care and checking in on others every day, not just on specific days.
Feelings aren't just a sometimes thing, they are an everyday thing.
Mental health is a critical issue that affects individuals (and those around them) of all ages and backgrounds. It is essential to keep the conversation going around mental health every day, as it is a problem that is not going to disappear but will likely continue to grow in the future. According to recent statistics, 1 in 5 adults in North America will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among individuals aged 10-34. The disease is very real and staring at us - we need to do something!
Initially, people assumed that the COVID-19 pandemic was the cause of the rise in mental illness cases, but studies now show that the number of people experiencing stress even before the outbreak even began was alarmingly high. All COVID did was give it a stronger voice because people were in isolation.
Raising awareness helps, sure, but it will never destigmatize mental illness if we don't work toward speaking about it daily. We need to work harder to improve access to resources and support for those who need it.
I have heard many people say that therapy is now for the rich because the rest of us can't afford to see a therapist. It just costs too much and not many organizations (workplaces) provide this kind of help as part of their benefits package. Even if some do, the amount of coverage is alarmingly low.
It is important for governments all over the world to increase funding for mental health services to ensure that individuals who suffer from mental illness have access to the help they need. Adequate funding is necessary to provide affordable and accessible mental health care, which includes counseling, therapy, and medication. This can help to reduce the burden on emergency services and hospitals, and ultimately lead to better outcomes for those living with mental illness. This type of funding can also be used to support research on mental health and the development of new treatments, which can help to improve the quality of care for individuals with mental illness.
But I have to be honest with all of you and say that funding alone is not enough. It's going to take a major shift in the way people look and treat others with this disease for real change to happen. I've said it in some of my other blogs surrounding mental health and I'll say it again, people need to change their mindset. I honestly thought COVID would change how everyone viewed mental health because it did bring it more to the surface during the pandemic. But, when everything began going back to some kind of normality, so did the thoughts and ideas surrounding mental health. Leaders especially have gone back to their old way of thinking. I thought there would be more compassion, more accommodation, and more consideration around this issue but I was wrong. We are back to business as usual and in a situation where the almighty dollar is king.
Mental health is now just a trendy thing to advertise and an in-fashion issue to discuss, but the time for pretending is over. We need real talk and real action or we are all going to die - directly or indirectly from this illness.
So, again, check in with one another, and especially with yourself. See how you and those around you are feeling. If something seems off, talk to someone; speak up!
Remember that it's ok to not be ok and to take care of yourself every day.
Let's keep the conversation going and break the trend of only talking about mental health on specific days.