Why Can’t We Talk More About Our Mental Health? Let’s Do It!
Updated: Oct 19, 2019
By Colleen Lennon, LCSW
It’s amazing that in this day and age of social media, where people are willing to share almost every detail of their lives, that there is still such a stigma surrounding the topic of mental health struggles and seeking out therapy.
People are more than willing to publish everything they eat, provide personal details about their income or jobs, post everything about their relationships and share videos of their daily activities and hobbies. But share that you’re having a bad day, feeling depressed and anxious, or struggling financially, NEVER! Why are we so reluctant to show the lows as much as we show the highs? We are all human and not every day is perfect. We need to stop only sharing our highlight reels and “get real”!
Mental health is not something that we should avoid talking about or addressing, it is an essential part of life and something that impacts us all, all the time. We all possess our own unique sets of temperaments, coping skills, distress tolerance abilities, anger management tools, communication skills, and strategies to handle life’s stressors.
When a person reacts to a challenging situation or copes in a manner that others view as “different”, that person is then often labeled as weak.
However, when someone is struggling with a task, job, or hobby, we don’t usually view them as weak, but instead usually help them problem solve or encourage them to seek assistance in order to improve their performance. It’s clear that our mental health is still one of the most harshly judged areas of our life.
Inevitably, there are going to be times in everyone’s life when something bad happens. Whether it be the loss of a loved one, a break-up, a loss of a job, or financial struggles, no-one is immune to rough patches. There are also going to be periods for some people where they may experience depression, anxiety, grief, or the effects of trauma, that can have a debilitating impact on one’s daily life. During these periods, it can be hugely beneficial for these people to reach out for support, especially from a therapist. Sadly though, because such a negative perception of mental illness and therapy still prevails, people often remain alone in their mental health struggles.
So how can we eliminate the negative perception of mental illness and therapy? The first step to erase this stigma is to talk about it. Whether it be with your family, friends or significant other, be open and honest about it. You might be amazed to find out that others close to you have had the same feelings, problems, or struggles. Shared experiences help us to feel closer to other people and create bonds, but the shared experiences don’t always have to be positive. If talking to someone in your life doesn’t help, seek out a therapist. The next step is to also be open about that, don’t be afraid to tell people that you are in therapy. It isn’t a bad thing to want to have an objective outsider to talk to about your life. It can be a great comfort to know that you have a safe and non-judgmental space where you can say anything you want and you don’t have to see that person in your daily life. And lastly, ask other people, truly ask, how they are doing. Not just the surface level “how are you?” that we do day to day, but really ask “how are you REALLY doing?” And if they are struggling, talk about therapy and how it can help.
If we all take the time to be more open and honest about what really goes on in our lives, both good and bad, we’ll all be so much better off and can together end the stigma of therapy and mental illness. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, it can liberating.