Why It’s Okay to Talk About Mental Health
By: Carli Ashley
While it has become more common for people to use trigger words such as anxiety, depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); people still struggle to understand mental health. We so often take care of ourselves physically by going to the gym, the doctor or the dentist, but people rarely check in regarding their mental health. In today’s age of self-care, it should be more acceptable to discuss mental health in a positive and accepting way that encourages conversation.
Everyone should feel encouraged to talk about their mental health; not only diagnosed conditions, but even if they have a bad day, week, month, or year. The illusion that mental health only affects those diagnosed with it is a misconception. Instead of talking about mental health in terms of the stereotypical labels, we should be talking about mental health as an ever changing status of the mind.
Talking about mental health can eliminate feelings of loneliness, develop a support system, teach you to manage your condition(s), fight guilt, and discover an outlet. Most importantly, talking about mental health will remind you that your journey is a continuous process and it’s about progress, not perfection.
Talking about mental health struggles can encourage conversation that breaks down the illusion an individual is alone. The more open you are about your struggles, the more quickly you will discover that the majority of people surrounding you also have experience with what you’re going through. Removing the loneliness that often comes with negative emotions and thoughts can create a solid foundation for progress.
Develop a Support System
Once you become more comfortable discussing mental health, you will be more likely to build a support system. A support system provides you with people to turn to, as well as people that will check in to make sure you’re okay. Your support system will be full of people who have, at one time or another, dealt with what you currently are. Welcoming people into your world to share your experiences with will ensure you are given the strength of knowing that if you fall, people will be there to help you up.
Learn to Manage
You will discover that talking can be its own release, but while you are talking to people about what you are going through, you will likely learn other ways to help you gain strength in your daily activities. Once I started talking about my anxiety openly, I learned that making sure I scheduled time for myself wasn’t selfish, it was necessary. More importantly, I learned that unless you’re practicing self-care with intention, you’re really just slathering a face mask on your face or sitting in a tub of aromatic hot water. What I mean is, make sure that the time you are taking for yourself means you are actively checking in with your feelings, thoughts and emotions. I will take the time to ask myself how I’m really feeling, and then dive deeper and ask why and, if necessary, what can I do to fix it. I then take the time to remind myself that negative feelings are not a sign of failure.
Often we feel guilty for negative thoughts and/or feelings, but talking about them means you are owning them. Taking ownership will allow you to process, work to adjust and progress, and then let go. Guilt has a tendency to lead to feelings of inadequacy or failure, so it is important to talk about what you are going through with your support system or a professional, and not turn to negative self-talk which will potentially worsen your current state.
Find an Outlet
Finding an outlet for your mental health is imperative to being able to do any of the above. There are no one-size-fits-all outlets for mental health, but talking about your mental health experiences with other people can provide the opportunity to learn what others do. Once you hear someone talk about how journaling, reading, or fitness helped them, you’re more inclined to try those things for yourself. Once you do, you may find something that works well and allows you to feel more comfortable in your skin and accepting of your mental status. I find making lists, journaling and beauty regiment days to be exceptionally helpful to me when I’m overwhelmed and having trouble staying on track. The key is to find something that allows you to regain focus, remember your breathing and see the road ahead of you a little more clearly.
Carli is a young professional from Toronto, Ontario. She is passionate about feminism, the law and the arts. She is supportive of anything inspiring, motivational and inclusive. In her spare time she loves to read, write and explore the outdoors with her dog, Opal. Carli hopes that her contributions to Seek Minimal will inspire people to be more accepting of themselves and others.