What is World Mental Health Day? Why is this day so much more important than many others? Should you even care? The answer is YES, you should!
Understanding The Significance
World Mental Health Day has been observed each year on October 10th since its creation in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health.
Its purpose serves to increase awareness of people suffering from mental health disturbances around the world. It is also a day for mental health workers to share their experiences and inform us of what needs to be changed.
Recent years in the United States of America, the UK and Canada have seen a shift in public awareness. More people are coming forward about what used to be their private battles with depression, anxiety, OCD and other debilitating mental health concerns.
However, there is still much work to be done. We must remove the stigma attached to suffering with any of these conditions. People are people and have value, no matter what the circumstance is.
Suffering from a mental health condition doesn’t make you weak. I argue that it means you have strength – otherwise you wouldn’t still be here with us. It is not easy choosing to fight it – choosing to push through when you have nothing left to give.
Why Should You Care About What World Mental Health Day Is?
If you have never suffered from depression, anxiety or one of its counterparts – I’m grateful for you. I’m grateful you haven’t had to endure the misery.
In the United States alone, the National Institute of Health, estimates that nearly 1 in 5 adults suffer from some form of mental illness! That’s almost 47 million people! These numbers are sadly increasing, rather than decreasing.
Each and every day – you are almost guaranteed to encounter someone who is suffering silently. The coworker sitting at their desk. A family member. A spouse. The drivers behind their steering wheels traveling the same roads as you. Most assuredly a stranger passerby on the street.
Mental illness may be invisible to most. But for the sufferer, it is anything but silent!
You may be blessed and never have to experience mental illness for yourself. I pray that’s the case, sincerely. But should you ever need the services of a mental health professional – this day and the people working behind the scenes are paving the way for your experience to be a helpful one.
However, if you are here reading this and are suffering from the grip of a mental health disorder – know that you are not alone. I see you and I care. As do so many others.
The observance of world mental health day honors you. It honors your battle. And it beckons you to share your story too so that more people can understand the many faces of mental illness.
The Effects of Mental Illness
Mental illness is not black and white. It is not cookie cutter and your experience may be entirely different from mine. Even if our ‘condition’ has the same name.
It does not discriminate – young or old, any race, any economical status, male or female – it makes no difference.
Our childhood experiences and learning histories during life influence how we perceive the world around us. It is no secret that our unique encounters shape the lens through which we color our lives.
Many of us grew up in families who suffered from one – or more – of these mental health disorders. I did. Depression and anxiety were common in my household. It was a conversation I witnessed often. And it shaped what I was taught about the world around me – whether that was intended or not. I know many of you can relate – with varying degrees of severity.
More often than not, someone suffering from a mental or emotional disorder automatically feel less than. It creates an isolating effect. You feel like no one could possibly understand what you are going through.Tweet
Your self-esteem takes a devastating hit because the lens you see through says you’re not good enough or that you’ll never be good enough. You will often feel like a fraud and if anyone ever knew the ‘real you,’ they’d hate you. So you adorn your face with a fake smile and power through another day. All the while dying inside.
#Depression, #anxiety and other mental health disorders rob you of your identity. They make you feel as if you simply don’t have one apart from the disorder. It’s a lie of the disease. The beauty of you is waiting to burst forth as dramatically as the flowers bloom in Spring.Tweet
Mental illness robs your creativity and productivity. You may find that what you once enjoyed no longer brings you pleasure. Work becomes more difficult to do. Your mind has lost its sharpness and critical thinking abilities. You feel dull, lethargic and uninspired.
Your mental power is mostly consumed with simply powering through another day. Life becomes monotonous and a chore. Much effort goes into simply showing up to the battlefield of mental illness.
Be Kinder To Yourself
Be kinder to yourself and much more patient. I think that’s one of the most important things I’d say to anyone suffering from any form of mental health disorder. Give yourself some space to acknowledge how you actually feel. Know that you have the right to feel it and you’re not ‘defective’ for it.
If you feel that you simply can’t manage how you feel any longer – reach out! Find someone you feel comfortable with. There are medical professionals, pastors and friends who care for you. Don’t suffer alone.
Medication isn’t always needed. Many times, working through the underlying issues with a qualified individual brings more relief than anything else ever could. For me personally, Holy Spirit-led prayer has uprooted much of what hid beneath the surface, bringing healing and peace.
I love this article from Caz over at Invisibly Me entitled, “Learning To Care A Little Less.” Sometimes – that’s exactly what we need. Much like Caz, I can fall into the trap of caring entirely TOO much. That emotional toll then takes its physical toll. Can you relate?
Please understand that I am not downplaying mental illness here. I am not implying that all mental health disorders are created equal in terms of need for prescription treatment or in any other sense.
Each and every case is unique. What works for you may not work for me and vice versa. That’s okay! World Mental Health Day is for that purpose. It brings awareness to ALL forms of mental illness and the treatments needed to bring freedom for the individual.
There is no way I could discuss the topic of mental health without also mentioning suicide prevention. It is also the chosen focus of this year’s world mental health day.
Suicide is a permanent solution to a (typically) temporary problem.
My husband’s life growing up was rocked again and again by a string of suicides. It changes the lives of those lost and those left behind.
Many times when the darkness takes over – nothing else matters. In that moment, you feel desperate. You simply want out of the misery. I get it. I’ve been there.
I want to remind you: Trouble won’t last always. The storm will pass and the light WILL shine again. It doesn’t feel like it right now but it will. Talk to someone NOW who can reach down and pull you up onto higher ground.
The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a wonderful resource. Reach out any time, 24/7 and someone will be there to lend their hand.
World Mental Health Day Saves Lives
For all the voices who have broken the silence on mental illnesses – THANK YOU! And for all of you who are still silently suffering – we are fighting for YOU!
I know what it is to not have the words to say. There have been times I was so low, I only wanted to hide from everything and everyone. There were no words left to express and all I felt was a mind numbing pain. Sometimes, you don’t want to talk. Sometimes all you want is for someone who loves or cares for you to simply sit by you. Just be. Maybe the words will come. Maybe they won’t.
There are some phenomenal people and mental health workers out there who know how to help. Don’t stop your search until you find one who respects you, validates you and gets what YOU need as an individual.
In these crazy times, we need as much awareness for mental health as possible. We need everyone to know they’re not alone. Your voice, my voice, all of our voices together are literally saving lives. ❣
Related: Have a look at my friend Eilidh Horder’s website. Her tagline is “EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL HEALTH BLOG: TURN DOWN THE WHITE NOISE AND FIND YOUR OWN SONG.” She has courageously come forward to share her journey of mental health and is a powerhouse for awareness! What a joy and light she is in this world. ❤
Mental health awareness doesn’t have to just happen on October 10th. Lets make everyday world mental health day by showing each other we care!
Please, share this article with your friends on social media. Thank you!!
Resources for Mental Health
7 Cups of Tea – connect with an ‘active listener’ for FREE or connect with a licensed mental health professional for an affordable fee. Available online and through an app.
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) – 24/7 help and referral hotline
Better Help – Online counseling platform. Fees are much less expensive than face to face counseling. Within 24 hours of signing up and expressing your needs – you get personally matched with a counselor. You can stick with them or decide you’d prefer someone else.
Talk Space – Another fantastic online counseling platform. They are affordable, accessible and are there to really help you live better. Sign up and find the right counseling match for you.
People may not understand you or your struggle. It is their loss. You must remember that you matter regardless of any mental or physical health struggles you face.
Your life matters and your voice matters. You will touch more people than you can imagine with your story.
Take care of you and your mental health. You are so very worth it!
My prayer for you today is that the Lord would wrap His loving arms around you and melt away your cares. I pray that peace would overwhelm your heart and your mind. I pray that any heaviness would lift and all storm clouds be broken. May joy reign in your heart as you live freely. My prayer is for you to experience wholeness in every area of your life. In Jesus’ name. Amen 🙂 🙏🏼
Let me hear from you… has mental health touched your life in some way? How did you handle it?