Why is it so important to talk about mental health?


Millions of Americans are diagnosed with one form of mental illness or other in any given year; but even with so many diagnoses, there remains a stigma around mental illness, with many people hesitant or resistant to seek and receive care.

No matter how much attention mental health is getting, many people are still so afraid to talk about what’s bothering them, let alone seek treatment. At HOPE, we want to stress the value of talking about mental health, so that every person who may be struggling knows that there are ways through even the most painful of seasons.

The more we talk about mental health, the more the stigma lifts. No one bats an eyelash when they report a broken leg or an upset stomach, but when people start talking about mental health, there are still those who question the validity of the ailment or the disorder. That must change, for the overall health of every single person. Just as everyone may get a headache or stomachache someday, everyone may also have an encounter with a mental illness – either witnessing it in someone they love, or by experiencing it themselves.

It's also coming to light that mental health disorders are increasing. More and more people are reporting things like depression and anxiety every year (and that doesn’t count those who are feeling the symptoms but may not be seeking treatment, or who may not even realize they’re going through something that’s a legitimate illness). Not that it’s good news that mental health disorders are becoming more prevalent, but it means that a lot of people going through tough times are going to start realizing they’re really not alone.

Still, sometimes it does seem easier said than done.

If you’re someone who’s hesitant to talk about their mental health, we understand. But maybe some of these baby step tips will help you start to open up.

Try writing in a journal. Sometimes, “seeing” how we’re feeling helps us face exactly what we’re going through. You might write down everything you’re feeling and then pretend you’re your own best friend reading about the tough time you’re going through. What would your best friend say? More than likely, your friend would be compassionate and encourage you to keep talking.

Or your best friend may be the last person you want to talk to, or anyone you know. You can scour the internet for a respected therapist or psychologist and book even just one session, just to see how you feel.

You can even try looking in a mirror and talking to and with yourself. Be loving in how you talk to yourself; do your best not to be so hard on you. For some people who are uncomfortable talking to others, this is a great way to “practice,” but don’t beat yourself up if talking to yourself in a mirror is harder than you thought it might be. Some people find this really uncomfortable, so they stick to journaling.

The point is, just start talking. You don’t need to explode with all your feelings at once; you can talk a little bit at a time. Or you might find that in the beginning you don’t even talk at all. You might just find comfort in being with someone else, someone who understands, someone who’s willing to listen, and someone who’s willing to wait.

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