The Struggle is Real: Normalizing Not Being Okay.
Struggle is a part of life. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, one in five American experience mental health issues which translates to more than 40 million adults a year. We are here to say, you aren’t alone. Wherever you are on your mental health journey, we are here to listen and support. At Vena, we are dedicated to talking openly about whole body health issues, without shame.
We want to normalize talking about our mutual and individual struggles. We can help others deal with pain, not by generalizing mental illness or trivializing diagnosis, but instead by acting with understanding and acceptance. In this article, we dig into the basics of mental health and why it’s so important to spread compassion.
What is Mental Illness vs. Mental Health?
Mental Illness is a condition that affects an individual's thinking, feeling, mood or behavior such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Such conditions may be occasional or long-lasting (chronic) and affect someone’s ability to relate or function.
Mental Health is a bit broader. It includes social, psychological, and emotional wellbeing and affects how we think, feel and act. The WHO stresses that “mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.” Instead, positive mental health is a state of wellbeing in which an individual realizes his or her strengths and abilities and has the ability to cope with the ups and downs of life.
Why is Mental Health Important to Overall Health?
Just like drinking water or sleeping, mental health is an essential part of our whole body health. Your mental health affects how you feel, think and experience the world around you. Positive mental health allows people to realize their full potential, create meaningful relationships, cope with stress, maintain physical health, work productively and contribute to the community.
What are Ways to Normalize Mental Health Issues?
In general, the stigma surrounding mental health is slowly receding but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to talk about struggle. Normalizing the conversation around mental health issues might empower people to speak up and ask for the help they need. Here are some ways you can normalize the conversation about mental health:
If you break your arm, it’s totally normal to talk about it openly. Break the silence and foster the same openness about mental health! Talking candidly about seeing a therapist because you are depressed could inspire someone to do the same. It could open doors for open and honest conversation and connection for yourself and others. The more we talk openly, the better we all will feel.
Educate Yourself (and Others)
Sharing knowledge helps eliminate misconceptions about mental health that often aid in stigma. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, doing your own research can help you understand and be more equipped to have a conversation about it. The National Institute of Mental Health and The Anxiety and Depression Association of America are both great resources if you need a place to start.
Check In on Your People
We love check-ins at Vena! Having someone listen without judgment can be such a powerful form of support. Checking in on a loved one when they seem a little off could make all of the difference. It can look like a quick text message, just listening, offering advice, or providing practical services. Not sure how to talk to someone struggling with mental illness? Here’s a few tips.
You never know what someone else is going through. Moving through the world with consciousness about mental health will . Try to be conscious about the way you use language around mental health and if you hear a joke or phrase that is stigmatizing or untrue, point it out. Speaking up can be hard, but it can make a strong impact. Compassion is cool!
No More Shame, No More Fear
Taking small steps towards normalizing conversations around mental health will make it easier to face the struggles we all experience. Here at Vena, we are committed to talking openly about fundamental health and wellness issues, without shame or fear. Those living with mental health issues are deserving of care, understanding, compassion and pathways to hope and healing.
If you are dealing with feelings of depression or suicide, please reach out for help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Are you struggling and need a friend? Whatever you are feeling - you most likely aren’t alone. Let’s Talk. Leave a question or comment below, or reach out to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.