Today’s topic: The Basics!
*DISCLAIMER* – I am not a professional. I have not, do not, and will not claim to know everything about ANYthing. I am just a girl with a wide range of interests
and I like to write about them.
1.) Everyone has mental health challenges.
This includes your parents, your teachers, your friends, your S.O., your mail delivery person, your doctor, your neighbor, and me. Mental health challenges know no
race, ethnicity, age, income level, gender identity, legal status, political affiliation, etc.
2.) Mental health challenges affect everyone differently.
For some people, stress is the hardest thing they will ever have to overcome. For others, it may be PTSD, depression, or schizophrenia.
Individuals with the same mental health challenges have unique experiences. Having the same diagnosis does not mean having the same symptoms, coping methods,
treatment, etc. Don’t presume you know everything about anxiety just because your best friend’s aunt’s girlfriend has anxiety and you two talk on Facebook.
3.) Everyone’s experiences with mental health are valid.
Mental health is not a competition. It is not a silly obsession, or a “fad,” or a trend that mellenials are “into right now.” Mental health is important, universal,
reactive, and always changing.
4.) Stigma is a bitch.
Mental health challenges do not make a person weak. Asking for help does not make one weak. Talking about mental health does not make one weak, or silly,
or lesser than someone else. As previously mentioned, mental health is universal and should be treated as such.
5.) Don’t be afraid to get help.
All the information in the world about mental health is not a substitute for proper treatment. If you suspect you may have a mental health issue, please talk to a
professional. Self-care and informed self-work goes a LONG way, but sometimes guidance or medication, and other treatment is the key.
6.) Medication is amazing! But not for everyone.
Mental illness may be universal, but each case is individual. I believe medication is awesome and amazing if you need it, respect it, and take it properly. Because
I am not a medical professional (or a professional anything), most of the tips and topics I discuss will be alternative options to medication but remember!: any
and all self-care can be practiced in conjunction with medication unless the medication or your doctor says otherwise. Most of my tips will be aimed at reducing stress
and making healthy lifestyle choices.
7.) Mental health is lifelong.
Mental health challenges may be temporary, long-term, or lifelong, but taking care of yourself should be forever. Mental health challenges often evolve with age,
career, and relationsihip changes. They may also come and go with the seasons. The best way to take care of your mental health long-term is to get in touch
with yourself, keep track of your emotions, and communicate effectively with your support system, including your healthcare professional.
8.) Unapologetic self-care is absolutely necessary.
I’ll say it again: self-care is absolutely necessary. In today’s stressful world, taking time for yourself is a must. Whether you’re a mother, a brother, a student, single,
in a relationship, working, unemployed, or retired, we all have needs. You don’t have to be in crisis to justify self-care. Take a bath, read a book, spend some quality
time with your furry friend (or your people friends). Whatever it is you need to do to be your best self, do it.
9.) Be a good supporter.
We’ve all needed someone at some point. More than likely, someday, you will be that someone. This may seem scary, but it’s actually quite simple. If you know
someone with a mental health challenge and you want to be there for them, know this: they need you to listen. Brush up on your good listening skills. Prepare
to hear things that may be difficult to swallow. Prepare to be moved. Most importantly, be honest. If you do not feel knowledgeable enough or emotionally strong
enough to hear someone’s struggles, be kind but firm in saying, “I love you, I care about your mental health, and I want you to get better, but I don’t think I’m
the best person for you to disclose to right now.” When a person is vulnerable with you, you must treat that with the utmost respect and care. No advice is
better than bad advice, and often times, advice is not wanted. Remember, it’s not about you as a supporter.
10.) Respect, respect, respect.
Talking about mental health challenges does not come easy to most people. Sharing is vulnerable and must be respected. If someone comes to you for help, don’t
push them away or shut them down. If you can’t offer support or sympathy, offer a connection. Suggest that that person see HR, the school counselor, a community
center, or their doctor. Above all, respect the courage it took to ask for help and remember that someday, you may be in a similar position. Remember the golden
rule, folks. Life is hard, so respect others, and respect yourself. Be kind. Be the change.


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