World Mental Health Day is a date that’s marked on my calendar every year, and while I usually write a post for that day (you can see last year’s post here and my 2018 post here), I was busy participating in something different this year. I am a Mental Health Advocate for Rethink Mental Health Incorporated, and on October 10th, they hosted a World Mental Health-athon on Instagram by bringing on their advocates at the top of every hour to talk about their own mental health stories and why mental health matters. When I was on Instagram Live for my portion, Rethink’s founder made a good point during our conversation that I wanted to expand more on today – that everyone deals with mental health.
There are many factors that play into the stigma surrounding mental health, and one that I’ve run into often is about who is “allowed” to have conversations about mental health. For some reason, many are under the impression that the only people who can talk about mental health are people dealing with a mental health disorder or mental illness. And while those people should have a more prominent voice that deserves to be heard more, mental health is a topic that is part of all of our lives. Whether or not we acknowledge it, the way we handle things in life, and how we respond to our daily tasks and challenges is our mental health (for more information on how to build your mental health, here is a helpful guide ).
Which leads me back to the Instagram Live session (which you can check out here). As a mental health advocate on a live chat with a mental health organization, I knew it wouldn’t shock anyone that I was participating in something like this for World Mental Health Day. But one of the things we touched on was that mental health is a topic for everyone because it affects everyone. Mental health is just as relevant in my life as it is in anyone else’s, because we’re both working toward the same goal – to be as mentally healthy as we can.
I’ve written about the difference between mental health and mental illness before, and what I learned then was that there are common misconceptions that lead to people having false ideas about major concepts of mental health. In this case, there’s also a misconception that mental health doesn’t apply to some people. But it does. Whether we acknowledge it or not, it applies to us all, and even though it looks different in every person, we all practice it.
Mental health can look like so many things during the day. It could be making sure you’re eating balanced meals, physical exercise or getting enough sleep. It could be taking breaks from screens or meditating. And for some who may live with chronic mental illness, mental health can be getting out of bed, or working through a panic attack or a difficult bout of depression. For some people, it can be all of those things in a single day! Your mental health journey is your own, but we need to change the idea that only some people have mental health. Mental health impacts all of us, and whether that means caring for others or caring for ourselves, there is plenty of work to do to break down the stigma and let everyone be honest and open when discussing mental health.
Do you know people who don’t want to talk about mental health because they “don’t have any mental health issues?” Do you think everyone has mental health? Let me know in the comment section!