6 Reminders To Take Beyond Mental Health Awareness Month
As another Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, we’ve started reflecting on what mental health really means and how society’s view of it impacts each of us individually. According to a survey from the American Psychological Association (APA), 87% of Americans believe that having a mental health disorder is not something to be ashamed of. On the flip side, the same survey revealed that 86% of Americans believe the term “mental illness” carries a stigma. These two facts may seem to contradict each other but what it really shows is that the majority of us believe mental health diagnoses are not something that should be stigmatized, however we still get the impression that they are in a larger societal context. Navigating society’s pressures and assumptions about anything can have a huge impact on how we see ourselves, so it can be helpful to keep in mind some important facts when it comes to mental health specifically. Here are six reminders for you to carry with you beyond Mental Health Awareness Month.
It’s ok to not be ok
The “it’s ok to not be ok” movement really took off when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Specifically, social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok started collecting thousands of posts with this hashtag. The simple fact of reminding people that it is ok to not be ok is a way to empower people to not be defined by their mental state. This idea can be applied to a wide range of situations, like feeling down after loss, or being diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Whatever someone’s personal situation may be, this phrase is a helpful reminder that it is ok to recognize that you’re feeling some sort of way and not to try to hide from it. It encourages authenticity and vulnerability, both of which can help individuals feel empowered even if they are in the midst of a difficult period of time.
Therapy is not a bad thing
As the majority of the country believes nobody should be ashamed of their mental health status, another study that was taken after the start of the pandemic, reported by Forbes, found that nearly half (47%) of people believe that seeking therapy is a sign of weakness. This is where a lot of work needs to be done in terms of how the public views therapy specifically. The idea of therapy being a “bad” thing or a “weakness” can be directly tied to America’s long-standing views on self sustainability, personal strength, and the old but deeply problematic “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” outlook. Not only are these ideas, which are still perpetuated by much of society and leaders in nearly all industries, harmful, they are also simply untrue. Being able to recognize when you need to seek outside help is the sign of emotional maturity. Life can be extremely difficult at times and knowing when you need to ask for help can lead to deeper self awareness and a happier life.
Hustle culture can be toxic
Hustle culture, which is when work dominates your time in a way where you have no delineation between work and life, has become another huge topic of conversation over the past few years, especially among millennials. Even just before the pandemic, ‘the hustle’ was portrayed as something to brag about and even be proud of. Having a million balls in the air was admirable. Hustle culture among women in particular also became skewed into somewhat of a feminist tag-line, closely tied to the Girlboss movement. Girlbossery has since been recognized as toxic and sexist in itself.
Whether it’s girlboss mentality or the general pressure put on workers, it all can become unhealthy very quickly. Pushing yourself to the brink in order to fall into what society deems as a “successful worker” is deeply problematic and something we need to constantly remind ourselves is not something to strive for. This can be a difficult pattern to break though, especially in a society where there is inequity and jobs that pay unlivable wages. The line between doing what you have to in order to survive and burnout can be very thin. There is no easy solution to getting out from underneath hustle culture and is unique to each person. This is where contacting a therapist to help you navigate it all may be helpful.
Distractions can be good for mental health at times
Amid all of the chaos of the world — and, boy, do we have a lot of it these days — we encourage you to try to find times to let your mind take a break from it all. This doesn’t mean burying your head in the sand and not caring about what is happening around you, but incorporating simple acts that can take your mind away for a bit. The mind — just like our physical bodies — requires breaks from all the stress. Think about if you were physically running nonstop all day, every day. Your body would eventually just give out. This is what can happen with our mental health when things get to be too much.
A rest from all the stress is necessary to keep fighting the good fight. This will look different for everyone but maybe it is taking a few days off of social media, or turning off the news. Instead maybe you dive into a great novel, watch a funny TV show, exercise while listening to your favorite music, or cook your favorite meal. All of these things — and so many others — can be necessary distractions that can give your mind a break.
Mental health is a journey, not a destination
As humans, it is completely normal to want a quick fix for our pain. This idea applies to mental health as well. Some people who begin therapy think of it as a short-term, quick-fix for a specific issue in their life. In reality though, being mentally well is a lifelong journey. This may sound overwhelming at first but reframing your mindset to recognize that you don’t have to get anywhere in any set amount of time can be freeing. There aren’t deadlines to be met or progress assessments you have to perform. All that is required is doing your personal best and continuing on in the ways that are best for your unique mental health situation. This could include therapy every week for the foreseeable future, or could look like starting a journaling or meditation practice. Whatever works for you is the best option.
Stay curious and trust yourself
Lastly, we want to emphasize the importance of curiosity and lifelong learning as you move through this thing called life. These ideas can be applied to every aspect of life but specifically applying them to your mental health journey can be helpful for your long-term growth. For example, staying aware and curious about your emotions in difficult situations can help you become more in tune with your emotions and perhaps even help you recognize patterns that may not be serving you. At the same time, recognizing these things in yourself without being overly critical is key. At the end of the day, even the most put together people have their own struggles, so trusting that you are doing what’s best for you in any given situation is all that matters.
Want to learn more about what we do here at Mind Body Co-op? Read about our services, approach, and clinicians here.
Mind Body Co-op is Chicago’s only space for individuals to discover, explore, and heal what is occurring internally at the cognitive, emotional, and physical levels. This unique, holistic approach to treatment and wellness is born out of the belief that examining the cognitive, emotional, and physical pieces and how they intersect helps lead to uncovering your full potential by providing thoughtful, collaborative, and complete integrative mental health care. We offer a variety of clinical services, including individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, psychological/neuropsychological assessments, medication management, CPT (comprehensive transitional program), medical nutrition therapy, somatic mindfulness, somatic groups, DBT, adventure therapy, therapeutic yoga, and more. We provide culturally competent services in English, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Russian & Arabic.