Mental Health Awareness Month
This article is written by Patricia Khoury, Lindsay's summer student intern. Lindsay is excited to share Patricia's thoughts below!
What is Mental Health Awareness Month?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) in the United States, and we thought we would take the time to recognize it today, even though we are here in Ontario. MHAM is when we take a moment
to stop and reflect on the importance of our psychological well-being. So often we are solely focused on our physical health that we tend to neglect or ignore our mental state, which is just as important. The purpose of MHAM is to educate the public about mental illnesses, the realities of living with a mental health condition, and how to recognize those who are struggling with their mental health. Whether it be minor or severe, every individual is appreciated and acknowledged during this month.
The importance of reaching out for help and not feeling ashamed to do so
Despite the push back or resistance that one may receive from others (e.g., family members, colleagues, or community members) regarding their mental health, it is always important to reach out for help, whether it be for professional or community support. The weight of struggling with your mental health is never easy to carry alone, and we are not meant to go through it alone. Talking about it can break down the stereotypes, help the recovery process, and create a space to express difficult emotions. It is essential to seek community support because that will encourage others who are struggling with mental health to speak up.
There is no shame in acknowledging your mental health and coming to terms with the signs/symptoms and alerts that your body is signaling to slow down. The truth is, asking for help is a sign of strength, and taking those first steps towards receiving support and guidance is where progression begins.
Though you may feel like there is no one to turn to, this is where therapy is a great option. Your therapists are supportive professionals who have the tools ready to help you take steps forward. MHAM helps remove the stigma around therapy; it aims to normalize attending therapy and accessing professional help. Everyone’s recovery process and strategies are different. Still, many find that receiving professional help is a vital ingredient in their recovery process.
Importance of self-care and self-compassion
It is important not to judge or condemn yourself for struggling; instead, aim to develop a compassionate voice towards your struggles. This comes with time, patience, and support. Especially throughout the COVID pandemic, we all need to take care of ourselves. Being isolated in our homes, away from other family members and friends, and being limited in gathering all produce a sense of loneliness, hopelessness and, evidently, can increase anxiety, stress, and depression.
Self-care starts from within; it is finding ways to cope, chatting with someone who can relate to your situation, engaging in mindfulness exercises, and reminding yourself that it is okay not to be okay! These are all ways in which one can find themselves progressing, a little bit each day, showing yourself acts of kindness and reminding yourself that there is hope. Taking those baby steps to recovery will go a long way, and it is never too late to learn self-care, self-compassion, and self-love.
You are not alone!
Reaching out is difficult, and it requires vulnerability. Nonetheless, it can be very rewarding when you finally connect with someone and begin to share your burdens. No one is meant to struggle alone, and even one conversation may go a long way.
4 ways to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month (Crosby, 2021)
1. Prioritize your mental health
2. Start a conversation
3. Donate or volunteer
4. Share information
Some things to know for Mental Health Awareness Month
a. Your mental health is as important as your physical health; your mind matters.
b. Mental health conditions are common and treatable.
c. You can address your mental health today!
You are important to us! Feel free to reach out at any time with your questions, or if you want to pursue moving forward into therapy, you are always welcome here.
Crosby, D. (2021, May 10). Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center. New Method Wellness. https://www.newmethodwellness.com/5-ways-to-celebrate-mental-health-awareness-month/.