By: Erin Rose Hennessy and Emily Eileen Moreshead
May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Educating our fellow human beings about mental health issues is vitally important. In the past, there was such a stigma around mental health. People were labeled as “crazy,” locked away in mental hospitals, or lobotomized. Nowadays, advocating for and teaching about mental health issues is helping change the public’s mindset about illnesses such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and other mental health difficulties.
Being mentally ill is no different than being physically ill. It is still such a difficult concept to grasp by the masses but why? A mood disorder needs to be carefully treated just as a disease like cancer or a broken limb needs to be treated.
Paying attention to one’s own mental health needs as well as asking others how they are doing, what they need, and what you can do to help is one way to bring awareness. Instead of telling yourself or others to “Just be happy!” or “Don’t worry so much!” or “But you don’t look sick!”, we should all think about ways we can help our fellow human beings. There is no shame in asking for help – even though it can be very hard to admit that you need help!
Invisible illnesses are something it can be hard to always understand, but just because you can’t see the illness doesn’t automatically make it less harmful nor does it make it okay to assume that things are “fine”. Check in with family. Check in with friends. Check in.
It’s okay to bring up mental health issues in conversation! It’s not taboo. It’s a healthy conversation to have and makes everyone feel heard, and that you’re at least trying to understand them. Ask those around you how you can help. Check in, listen, and then encourage them to seek outside help if necessary.