It’s World Mental Health Day, guys!
World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year. The World Health Organization’s main objective with establishing this day is to raise awareness regarding mental health issues around the world. The day also serves as a way of mobilizing efforts to support positive mental health.
Did you know that 1 in every 5 children over the age of 13 and 1 in 5 adults experiences mental illness? That’s 20% of the world population! Furthermore, over 50% of teens and 60% of adults do not receive the medical treatment they really need for their mental health conditions.
Look around you right now while taking those statistics in. According to those numbers, 3 out of the 5 people in closest proximity to you are probably battling depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions. Would you even know by looking at them? What would you say or do if you thought it could help?
Before you can help anyone else, you need to first be sure you are taking care of your own mental health, too. Just like the instructions on the airplane say to put your oxygen mask on first, the same is so important regarding your mental health.
So, what can we do to positively impact mental health conditions for ourselves and, ultimately, those around us?
1. Take care of yourself physically.
Your physical and mental health go hand in hand. Putting the effort into your personal hygiene, food intake, and sleep can all go a long way to not only keeping your body healthy, but helping your mind stay well, too. Pay special attention to what you are eating and when, and remember that regular exercise and movement impact your hormonal balance by the release of endorphins.
2. Seek professional help for yourself and push others to do the same.
The truth is, everyone should really be seeing a therapist, even those who seem “mentally well.” Psychotherapy (you know, the place with the couch where you just talk for an hour?) provides an outlet for all that we carry around, a safe space for taboo topics, and an objective, non-judgemental sounding board for all of our innermost thoughts and feelings. Some people may need more frequent intervention than others, but literally, everyone can benefit from at least one session on a couch per month. This need for a professional is even more important if you see behaviors or actions in those around that are atypical for them. Don’t be afraid, pick up the phone, and start down the path of therapy today.
3. Stop judging people for being “different” and stop subscribing to the stigmas we place on mental illnesses.
One of the biggest problems impacting mental health and people seeking treatment is the incredibly negative stigma we place around mental health conditions. Our society places high importance on being happy, productive, and social people always. The truth is, not everyone is that way and we shouldn’t be shaming people for not fitting into these “one size fits all” molds we make for the world. We need to stop shaming people who don’t do well in crowds or those who think differently than we do. Get to know the people in your life and really embrace who they are as people while encouraging everyone else to do the same.
4. Be an ally to the mental health community each and every day.
Whether or not you personally have a mental health condition, you can still be an ally to those who do. Educate yourself about mental illness through sources like the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Become aware of those around you who experience mental illness and ask what you can do for them when they are having a bad mental health day. Provide a listening ear to anyone in your life when they need to get something off their chest, and be respectful of their feelings by taking a non-judgemental stance. You’d be surprised what a positive impact just being supportive of those around you has on everyone.
Today may be World Mental Health Day, but we can start doing these 4 things any day and anytime. Although they may seem like small and insignificant steps in a tiny little list, if we each take these small steps together, it can be a giant leap for mankind as a whole. So, take one more look at the people around you right where you are now: are you ready to take a step together to helping out mental health around the world?