Why You Need to Pay Attention to & Care About World Mental Health Day
Wednesday, October 10, 2018, marks the annual awareness and recognition for World Mental Health Day. This is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigmas. So, if you’ve ever heard the term ‘mental health’ and thought to yourself, “This isn’t for me”, you may want to keep reading anyway.
This day was first celebrated and recognized in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and connections in more than 150 countries. While the language around mental health and mental illness has existed for decades, the conversation itself has become far more open and relevant to all (and rightly so).
Look I get it, we all come from different backgrounds, races, religions, cultures, and so much more. I truly appreciate that different people have different perspectives, that mine is just one, and that putting our perspectives out there for debate we can all advance our understandings of all of these deeper issues. Let’s merely peel back the layers of this ‘mental health’ onion.
Before I continue, I simply want to remind my readers I’m no doctor, trained professional, therapist, counselor or mental health expert. Nor is this blog intended to give you such advice. It is intended to make you feel more human; the overarching message being painted more clearly below. It is intended to highlight an opportunity to speak up whenever you feel comfortable doing so. I’m just the messenger wanting to address the elephant in the room for most men and women in America, and globally too.
Mental health can affect anyone any day of the year. Mental health problems and stress are some of the main causes of disease worldwide. Practically everyone today has been prescribed an anti-depressant, which is only slapping a bandaid over the problem. In the UK, 1/4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. And, 1/6 report experiencing one of the most common problems, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week.
In our increasingly online and social-media filled worlds of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, the necessity for people to hear the raw truth of what is really going on has become somewhat of a lifetime. I don’t share this with most but earlier this year my father was put on anti-depressant medications. I don’t say that for your sympathy, as he’ll be off them soon, but to impress upon other individuals that these problems run rampant in most American households. I myself have occasionally suffered from anxiety and depression, I’m not perfect. I cannot be the only one, right? So fix whatever’s going on in between your head. Associations and positive self-talk are good places to start.
We human beings need to create meaning around these experiences to make sense of our lives, and stories enable us to do so. So does real and authentic communication, not bullshit water cooler talk or texting instead of calling someone you love today.
When we are really able to experience others’ vulnerability, when their ‘masks’ are removed as Lewis Howes would say, we get to feel far more connected. Plus when others share that ultimately, behind the scenes there are both up and down days, it reiterates that we really are all simply human beings in the end. We aren’t robots, we all express feelings and emotions. Some more than others. We’re doing the best we can with what we have. There’s never a lack of resources around us, simply a lack of people being resourceful today.
Everybody has bad days or a series of bad things that happen to them. Some successful businessmen, women, entrepreneurs, Republicans, Democrats, actors, actresses, etc. just don’t let it get them down for too long. And given that knowledge, why wouldn’t we want to treat our mental health with the same level of respect we give our physical health? They’re both equally important. So ask yourself, how eagerly do you give attention to your own mental health? What do those routines, habits, and disciplines look like?
Maybe you used to see mental health ‘as not relevant to me’ because you’re young and invincible. I’ll be honest I’ve thought that before. My wish today is simple: help yourself first before helping others normalize mental health, and help people globally as well to feel ‘more human’.
Today is about the recognition that you have the power to create a positive and uplifting environment for your own personal agenda and mental health that feels healthy, fulfilling and sustainable at lengths — just as much as you would do with your physical health. And, feel more okay to start a conversation about it. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
My Very Best,
Donovan E. Vogel