I talk about the subject of mental health EVERY SINGLE DAY. Therefore, with today being World Mental Health Day, I thought long and hard about how I’m going to say something any different than what I wrote on this day last year and what I say in my job as a psychiatrist on a daily basis. So here’s what I came up with:
No joke – I literally sat in front of my computer for hours typing idea after idea, sentence after sentence, complaint after complaint about our mental health system when I decided to scratch everything I wrote and opted instead to free write the following thoughts:
Issue 1: Mental health impacts EVERYONE…whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. The topic of mental health is considered taboo in many cultures and remains highly stigmatized in society. However, in order to break the pattern of silence which gets passed along generations, we must acknowledge our own mental health issues and create a sense of safety within our own families to feel open enough to discuss issues as they arise, thus modeling a healthier way of communicating.
Issue 2: We often tell people “don’t be afraid to ask for help,” yet when they finally decide to seek resources, the first place they may end up is on a long waitlist to see a mental health professional, yet mental health professionals are overworked and becoming burned out trying to meet increased demands and make up for the lack of resources. The bigger issue is that more funding and resources are needed to bridge the gap in order to meet the need.
Issue 3: If you Google ‘World Mental Health Day,’ the top articles on your feed likely consists of links that highlight the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Prince Harry’s public appearance today to raise awareness of mental health and support the mission of Heads Together, the mental health organization they helped create. I love their theme for World Mental Health Day, which encourages people to celebrate anyone who has supported them through a difficult time using #ThereForMe. Support is absolutely necessary for everyone, especially those struggling with mental illness.
Personally, through each struggle I’ve experienced, I have always been thankful for the support I received. Often when my patients are struggling, they feel comforted knowing they have at least one person they trust to reach out to. I hope that someday each one of us could feel open enough to be that person to someone because addressing mental health isn’t something we should have to go through alone. Rather than waiting on legislation to create measures that prioritize mental health, we can each act now by identifying ways to address our own mental health and be more present for those close to us who might be in need of support.
By the way, I realize that I posted this blogpost quite late today, but I suppose there was no real sense of urgency because in my mind, World Mental Health Day is EVERY DAY.