Recently we celebrated Mental Health Awareness Month (May) and as I attended a certification class to learn more about this topic and become a Certified Mental Health First Aider, I realized that this topic affects us all in many and different ways. It is not only something that we should think about just at home with our families or just at work with our coworkers, nor is it something that is an isolated incident that only happens once and goes away. Mental illness is something that can touch us all whether at home or in the workplace or at school, if you are around other humans, it can touch anyone of you.
During and after that certification course I have done a lot of research on this topic and have found astonishing statistics on how closely we are impacted by Mental Illness and most of the time we do not even realize how close. Statistics from the Mental Health Coalition (thementalhealthcoalition.org) show that in fact, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives. They go further to explain how 4 in 4 people have been touched by either someone or themselves experiencing a mental health crisis. Just pause and thing about that for a minute. If you are a family of 4, there is one person in that group that might be experiencing a mental health crisis and you might not even be aware. It is very alarming, which is why I wanted to spend a couple of minutes highlighting this topic. Mental Health affects us all and the unfortunate part is that many times because it is not a physical impalement people tend not to put attention to it or get help.
Regardless of your social status, your heritage, your biases, your fear, understanding the elements of taking care of your mind are important and reaching out for care is crucial in your quest to be healthy. Let us say for example you fell and broke your arm, you would immediately feel the pain and go to the doctor, correct? Or if you had an abdominal pain, you would feel the pain and go to the doctor, right? Well, you should do the same for your mind. Your mind is a living organ in your body that needs attention just like your liver or kidneys your mind needs attention as well.
We should learn to have compassion and understanding on the people that we are around throughout our daily lives. We should also understand that there are resources out there that are at the tips of your finger that can help you with ANY issue you might be facing, no matter how scary it might be. Some of these resources are:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1–800–273–TALK (1-800-273-8255)
This is a crisis hotline that can help with many issues, not just suicide. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they are feeling or concerns for other family and friends. Call the toll-free Lifeline, 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.
- Mental Health Coalition: Crisis Text Line by texting COALITION to 741741
They are a coalition of the leading mental health organizations, brands, and individuals who have joined forces to end the stigma surrounding mental health and to change the way people talk about, and care for, mental illness. They have a great resources library: Mental Health Coalition – Resource Library
- Local Employee Assistance Hotline from your employer or school
This information varies by area but if you reach out to your Human Resources Department at work or your Student Services department at school, they can provide further contact information. These are mostly free benefits that are not taken advantage as much as they should.
In my personal experience, the biggest step in this process is making the call and going through with getting the help you and/or your loved one needs. It can be very daunting how it all makes you feel but making that call will definitely help. On the other line of that call, you will find a non-judgmental person that will help you see things differently and help you start enjoying things rather than just living them. Remember no action will not help you change your situation; you need to start somewhere. Even if it is a small change like getting out of your room, going out with a friend for coffee, doing art if you enjoy that, gardening if that gives you piece, cooking or attending a cooking class if you like to eat, putting your electronics away for an hour or two in a drawer on-off mode to just disconnect for a while, anything you do to start is the first piece in the right direction.
My sincere hope is that everyone feels like they have someone to live for even if that someone is themselves.