Today is World Mental Health Day and I just wanted to write a short post about the importance of opening up and talking about mental health issues. We live in a society where people are encouraged to “suck it up” when it comes to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
And I’ve found that even as media outlets and individuals applaud people for getting support and treatment, there can still be a narrative of “emotional weakness” that pervades the way we talk about people who are outspoken about their mental health and prioritize it. Otherwise smart people start to use flowery analogies like rainclouds and such to describe the symptoms what is actually a health issue.
We are much better than we used to be generally when it comes to talking about this stuff, but I don’t think we can stress enough, even now that mental health is a health issue, and beyond that is deeply connected to physical health as well. It’s so important that we talk about these issues in the same ways.
I found a study a couple of days ago about depression and people with keratoconus. I had suspected years ago that in addition to dealing with my vision stuff I was also depressed, which also affected my physical health and energy, but it was easy for me to throw myself into work and creative shit and not really deal with it. That was a couple of years ago and I’m definitely in a better place with good support and treatment but I was reading about just how much kc and depression are linked and I realize I didn’t really prioritize my mental health because I was so focused on the physical stuff.
I think we already have a problem with framing mental health as a medical issue, and for many with chronic illness it’s going to be an additional issue to deal with, but as with a lot of invisible illnesses it’s super easy to explain it away if you don’t see it. That’s why talking openly about mental health and educating people (even when it seems repetitive) is so important.
So for World Mental Health Day, if these issues are new to you, I invite you to do a bit of reading and research about mental health issues.
The #WorldMentalHealthDay and #WMHday hashtags on Twitter are a good place to start.
This video from AJ+ is a good resource on why the mental health care system is the US is so messed up:
Here are five reasons why the mental health care system in the U.S. is broken: https://t.co/8vJW4QLoOB
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 10, 2016
The World Mental Health Day website is also a good resource.
I’m also a fan of the nonprofit No Stigmas.
And if you are dealing with any kind of mental health issues, remember that it’s totally OK to prioritize yourself and your health in the ways that you need. Our culture’s not great with dealing with any kind of illness that’s not catastrophic, but that perspective is wrong and harmful. You’re important and your health is important. Mental health is health.