Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day sponsored by the World Federation for Mental Health. Apparently this is actually an annual event, but I’ve only been tuned into it this year. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the day and I have to say that I’m relieved and thrilled that others are catching on to this cause.
As someone who has personal experience with anxiety and depression, I empathize with the difficulties people face on a daily basis when dealing with these and other mental disorders. I’m sad to admit how little I discuss or share my own personal experience for fear of judgment. I am afraid that people will think I’m weak or broken and thus treat me differently (a fear unfortunately based in experience). But seeing how many of the recent tragedies in the US have been a/n in/direct result of mental illness, it inspires me to talk about it more. I’m hopeful that I’ll reach a point where I feel comfortable writing about it as well. We as a society have to move past the stigmas and encourage others to get the help they may need. There’s a special airing on MTV tomorrow (yes, I know it’s MTV but they have some decent documentaries) about depression in teens. Given how many stories there have been in the news about young adults committing suicide or hurting themselves, I don’t know that there can be enough outreach on these topics.
When I was reading more about World Mental Health Day I stumbled upon an article discussing the need for a mental health focus when dealing with refugees. It’s so easy to overlook the mental and emotional impact that a major crisis can have on individuals when there are more immediate needs – food, clothing, shelter – that must be attended. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel to be in their position on any level, but I send them all the good thoughts and positive energy that I can.
Should anyone feel so inclined there are multiple charitable options available both domestically and internationally (it just takes a few minutes with Google). But personally I think, like so many things in life, the greatest impact is made on the smallest level. If you feel comfortable sharing your story with someone that you feel may be experiencing something similar – try it (note the bold, italics on the word comfortable). If someone confides in you about their own struggles, try to keep an open mind. Depression, bipolar, whatever the case may be, are difficult to live with, but a little understanding goes a long way most days. And if you personally feel that you may be suffering from a mental disorder, make a call – or twenty if necessary – to get checked out. Luckily these days there are so many different treatment options. Don’t be afraid of doing what you need to do to live this life and to be happy. Admitting there is or may be a problem isn’t weak, it’s one of the strongest things you can do.
Other helpful links:
Mental Health America