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Why we need to talk about mental health

Mental Health awarenessWe've posted a few different messages about awareness and mental health this month. Most of them had the same theme: talking about mental health. Silence is a big problem with mental illness - we don't talk about this issue as often as we should.

So why will talking about mental health make a difference?

  • The less we talk about mental health, the more stigma there will be. People will continue to feel shame about their issues, and avoid seeking support.

  • When somebody with a mental illness steps up and puts their experiences into words, it inspires. It makes people think about the human behind the illness. It also makes people more likely to say: "Hey, me too."

  • Being more open about the reality of mental health helps others who don't understand. It helps people realize what many of us deal with on a daily basis. It gives people a different perspective and a little bit of empathy.

  • Talking about mental health will change how we perceive the source of the issue. It will help stop others from telling somebody to "suck it up," or writing people off as not strong enough. It will stop us from blaming others for their mental health. We would never blame somebody for a medical illness, so why do we do the same for mental illness?

  • We also need to shift our bias as a society. We make fun of mental illness in the media. We make jokes that perpetuate "crazy" stereotypes. We use language that minimizes real mental illness, like "oh I'm so OCD." When a celebrity has a "meltdown," we can't stop talking about it. We don't stop and think what's behind the story.

  • Finally, talking about mental health will build our knowledge base for prevention. It will be easier to recognize warning signs in ourselves and others. We can focus more on proactive support, rather than dealing with the aftermath of unsupported mental illness.

So as you can see, yes, talking about mental health makes a huge difference. You don't have to get up on a soapbox and yell out to the crowds (or you can if you want). But, every conversation, every question of "how are you, REALLY," can impact someone else. Every story is powerful.

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