Since the year 1949, the US has been observing May as the Mental Health Awareness Month every year. This is done by creating awareness campaigns around mental health and reaching out to people through media, events, and social gatherings and screenings. Many organizations take part in this program and help in spreading the message.
As of 2019, around 47 percent of the total adults in the US experience one or the other form of mental illness in the course of their lifetime. As per the USA’s Mental Health First Aid organization, half of all these mental disorders begin by the age of 14, out of which only 41 percent ever get professional care or any other kind of assistance for the same. All these statistics signify the need for more awareness of our mental health and ways to deal with it.
Mental Health Awareness Campaigns
In this article, we take a look at the Tools 2 Thrive initiative by Mental Health America (MHA), #notalone campaign by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and #breakthestigma campaign by Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), all concerning the Mental Health Awareness Month 2020. Let us first take a look at the two campaigns and then discuss in detail what the Tools 2 Thrive entails.
You Are Not Alone & Break The Stigma
“You are not alone” is a campaign set up by the NAMI to raise awareness about the topic. What they are looking for are stories of mental health that help others to join their struggles or make them feel like they are not alone in this. One of the biggest challenges faced by people going through mental illness is to come to terms with the fact that they are not the only ones going through it. The stigma that surrounds a mental disorder is so antagonizing for people that it makes them feel isolated and often leads to more mental issues than not.
NAMI plans to raise this awareness by providing information on the mental health statistics and by providing a platform for people to share their personal stories. Millions of people suffer from a mental illness each year and through it all, they still manage to work, laugh, create, and inspire every day. As per data, 19 percent of all US adults suffer from an anxiety disorder, 7 percent are living with depression, and at least 4 percent are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, and even after these staggering stats, somehow these individuals face loneliness in their illness. The reason being the lack of mental health awareness among people. For more such statistics on mental health, you can go here.
Another campaign on similar lines is that by ADAA where they try to break the stigma surrounding the treatment for mental health disorders. According to data presented by them, around two-thirds of the total people suffering from a mental disorder never seek treatment for their condition. Through this initiative, they try to promote the idea of sharing your story to inspire others who might be going through similar challenges.
It is high time we all come together as a community and tell each other the best thing we can – you are not alone. And this can only be done by providing a comfortable and secure environment for everyone to share and thrive. You can also use the hashtag #notalone on social media to share your story.
Mental Health Toolkit: Tools 2 Thrive
The mental health toolkit provides you with practical takeaways that you can utilize in order to improve your mental health. It will also help you better your resilience in tough times. Let us explore in detail what the Tools 2 Thrive contains.
Own Up To Your Feelings
It is very important to own up to our feelings as they help us in coping with the challenges brought upon by them. Give yourself space and time to feel what you’re feeling. There are many times when due to social obligations, societal demands, and gender stereotypes, one tries to run past their emotions. However, it is crucial to understand that these are outdated ideas that do not work in favor of our mental health. As humans, we all have emotions regardless of any of the factors out there and it is only possible to operate at full strength when you own up to them. These might be feelings of hurt, anger, jealousy, or love – what one needs to do is take them for what they are. Tools 2 Thrive suggests talking it out to someone about how you’re feeling, building on your emotional vocabulary which is to say dig deeper than feeling ‘bad’, ‘sad’, or mad. Build your emotional vocabulary to the extent where you can use the exact word for how you’re feeling. It also promotes the idea of journaling and if need be, seeing a mental health professional.
Look For The Positive In Loss
Loss is as much a part of life as is happiness. At some point or the other, we have all been faced with a loss that we did not know how to cope with. It can be anything from losing a job to the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship or the loss of a home. It is only natural to grieve when something of this nature happens. However, what you can do is, look for the scope of opportunity in this adversity by trying something new, something that you had been wanting to do for a long time. This, experts suggest, helps us emotionally and mentally deal with the loss. Try to look for the strength in your loss as you continue to live without that person or thing. Learning to carry on helps you become a stronger person with better skills to cope with any other difficult situation in the future. You can also feel inspired by taking someone else’s example. Remember you are not alone. Other ways you can look for the positives in your loss is by finding ways to honor the loss, remembering the good times, and doing what makes you happy. Once again, it is perfectly all right to seek a counselor to help you cope with the loss you’re facing.
Remove Toxic Influences
There are certain things that act as a toxic influence in our lives, sometimes without even us realizing it. They trigger us into feeling bad about ourselves and result in destructive behaviors. These toxic behaviors include being manipulative to someone to get work done, passing judgment at someone to make them feel bad about themselves or their life choices, or using passive-aggressiveness to show their discontent by disregarding the other person’s efforts or passing snide comments at them. The list does not end here. Being overly controlling or self-centered or having severe bouts of anger are also all signs of toxic behaviors. What you need to do in such situations is start by setting some boundaries for yourself in order to prevent any harm. If things really seem to be going out of hand, reach out, and talk to someone you trust about what you are facing.
Develop Healthy Routines
Having a good healthy routine really goes a long way. This helps us organize our day in a way where both the tasks at hand and our mental health gets taken care of. When you’re creating a routine for yourself, you shouldn’t follow something on the web or something you’ve heard of from someone. It is important to create a routine that works for you. Start small by adding nutritious foods and some easy exercises to your routine and then slowly keep adding. Make sure you make time for the things you enjoy doing.
When you see a person who is struggling with difficulties, there are certain things that you can do to help and this comprises of being understanding and supportive of their struggles. Simple things like listening to someone without comparing or judging them make a lot of difference. You can ask them what they need or just be with them while they go through this tough time, ensuring they don’t feel alone. Sometimes you may feel like no matter what you do, nothing seems to be enough and these are times when you may have to seek serious help for them. Your loved one might be suffering from a mental health condition and for that, you need to get in touch with a counselor.
Sometimes, we are surrounded by ton of people and yet we end up feeling alone. It is important to have good connections in life, ones that make it a tad bit easier to live, those who you can talk to without fearing being judged. It can oftentimes be hard to find these connections. Ask a coworker to join you for lunch, go out to your familiar places or joints, and start a conversation. You can talk about your shared experiences, current topics, music, or movies. You can also start by complimenting people to strike a conversation. Set aside some time to be social, it doesn’t necessarily have to be face to face all the time, you can connect with people via calls, texts, or video calls. Go out more often, accept invitations, and most importantly pay attention to what the other person is saying as nothing is more delightful than a person who actually listens.