May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And The NEST wants to help you learn more about how you can get involved in helping spread awareness in the Stillwater MN community (or wherever you're located).
Why do we need a "mental health awareness month"
Mental health is starting to be talked about more in mainstream media. This is largely due to the pandemic in the past year. But, there is still a stigma that surrounds it. This stigma creates a huge obstacle that stands in the way of many people receiving the help that they need.
The stigma can cause negative beliefs and stereotypes for people who are living with mental health disorders. This can cause people to avoid speaking up and seeking help because they're worried about what people will think about them or say about them.
It can also cause people to think untrue things about themselves because of the mental health challenges they face. Stigma can lead to shame and self-doubt. If you believe that others would think differently about you because of your mental health disorder or emotional struggle, it can start to cause you to struggle with negative self-talk and thoughts about yourself.
This is why it's so important to spread awareness around mental health disorders. Helping to normalize the mental health conversation is the first step toward eliminating stereotypes. This will also people feel comfortable reaching out for help.
Organizations working to spread mental health awareness
Many organizations are working to end the stigma around mental health. They're focused on spreading awareness around the world. One of the US organizations doing so is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI has state chapters that work within local areas as well. They have virtual and in-person events that you can participate in to raise awareness.
Their website covers a variety of topics from how to build resilience in children to an active substance abuse forum. NAMI is working to provide support, educate the public, and fight stigma and discrimination.
But many other organizations have free resources and helpful information for you to explore as well. A few more options include:
Mental Health America
National Institute of Mental Health
Mental Health First Aid - List of Mental Health Resources
How you can get involved in Mental Health Awareness Month
There are many different ways that you can get involved in Mental Health Awareness month. Here are some ideas of what you can do to help.
Share your own mental health story
There is power in sharing our personal stories with others. The more people who are willing to share their own experiences with others, the faster we'll be able to break the mental health stigma.
Sharing your own story of getting help for your mental health challenges can help encourage other people to seek help as well. It also helps people to realize that they're not alone in their struggles.
It's easy to start feeling alone when experiencing challenges with your mental health. But hearing the stories of others who have experienced something similar can be just what you need. It can encourage you and provide hope that things can get better.
Sharing your story can be simple. You can share small parts of it on social media with hashtags like:
You can also use something around the specific challenge or disorder that you have experience with such as:
You can choose whatever fits the best with your story. This can help your story to get in front of the people who might need to hear it most.
You can also share your story simply by talking with friends and family in your life. It's common for people to avoid sharing the difficult parts of life with others because everyone is trying to act like they have it all together. But when you're willing to share your personal experiences with mental health and wellness, you can help others to feel more comfortable doing the same.
Educate yourself about mental health challenges
One of the easiest ways that you can participate in Mental Health Awareness month is by educating yourself on the reality of mental health disorders and challenges. Take the time to learn what the symptoms of things like anxiety and depression look like. Learn about the red flags to help with suicide prevention.
Take some time to think about and reflect on the beliefs that you have about mental health disorders. If you find that you have fallen for the stigma or stereotypes that exist, take time to challenge your thoughts and beliefs. Take time to educate yourself so you can be a better example to others as well.
Help spread awareness
The more mental health enters the conversation the closer we will get to ending the stigma that surrounds it. Even if you don't have your own mental health story to share with others, you can still be a part of educating your community.
Share posts that talk about mental health on your social media accounts. Look for ways that you can get involved with local organizations that are spreading awareness. And if you hear a story that sounds inaccurate about someone's mental health, take the time to get the facts right and stop spreading misinformation.
Donate to the cause
Along with NAMI, many other organizations are working to support people living with mental health disorders or struggling with things like stress and anxiety from everyday life. Find a group or organization that you can support through donations.
Remember, donations can be monetary, but they don't have to be. You can also donate your time or your talent. Nonprofit organizations tend to be working with small budgets and usually are more than happy to have volunteers assist with different tasks.
Support a friend or family member in seeking help
Another great way to participate in Mental Health Awareness month is to assist a loved one in getting the help that they need.
However, it's important to keep in mind that you can't force someone to get the help they need. You can be supportive of them, provide them with resources, and encourage them to seek help, but you cannot do it for them.
It's also helpful to keep in mind that sometimes the best way to be there for someone is to simply listen. You don't have to have all the answers and they may not want any advice from you at all. But just being there with a listening ear and your presence can make a big difference for some people. Showing kindness and not judging can go a long way.
Get help for your mental health and wellness
If you've been struggling with your mental health, don't delay in taking action so you can feel your best. There is never any shame in admitting that you're struggling with your mental health or emotional wellness. You may have a diagnosable disorder that needs to be treated or you may just benefit from learning strategies to help you cope with the stress and anxiety of everyday life.
There is a stereotype out there in society that says only people with serious problems need to therapy, but that's not true. There are many different ways that people can benefit from the care and services of a therapist.
Some examples include:
Not knowing how to handle a difficult relationship
Feeling overwhelmed by everyday stress
Struggling with difficult emotions due to infertility
Transitions between life stages
Divided parenting or divorce meditation
Struggling with the negative impact of discrimination
Don't wait to get help because you feel that your problem or challenge isn't "big enough" or "bad enough" to talk to someone about. A therapist can help with challenges both big and small. Feeling your best is always worth seeking help.
The NEST is here to support your mental health in Stillwater MN
While May might be the calendar month dedicated to mental health awareness, that's what we're about every day at The NEST. It's our goal to provide every individual that comes to us with personalized therapy to help them create meaningful change in their life.
If you're wondering how we can help you, explore our services today.