The middle of October is definitely a time when we are gearing up for several big events on the calendar. Halloween is on Oct. 31, Election Day is on Nov. 8 and Thanksgiving is even starting to get closer, coming up on Nov. 24. However, there is a day that we should be considering more – World Health Day – that also falls in this period, Oct. 10. Especially with the recent set up of the 988 crisis hotline in July, talking about mental health is more important than ever. If we want ourselves and those close to us to have better mental health, we need to continue talking about it and informing ourselves and others about resources.
Through the years of the pandemic, our mental health has been challenged in multiple ways. The extraordinary effect of lockdowns, Covid-related hardships and transitions back to “normal life” exposed stresses that had been present in our communities all of this time. As we have tried to make sense of all that has happened in the past few years, more and more people have had their mental health challenged in unique ways, or had their existing struggles magnified.
The pandemic has shown us through all the collective anxiety and suffering that mental health is something that affects us all. No longer should it be classified as something that is “wrong” with someone. While it is not always the easiest subject to talk about, I have been encouraged by signs like increased television and radio ads and more mental health campaigns that are encouraging people to reach out for help.
Thankfully, there are more resources than ever for people to utilize to address mental health. As a student, I was thankful for the amazing counseling services I could access. This was an invaluable resource I would recommend to any student. If you’re paying for it with your tuition, use counseling services when you need them.
More and more workplaces are offering health and assistance programs that include mental health services. As I mentioned, the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is one number that is supported by local, state and federal resources to provide support and care. This number works across the country just like 911, no matter where you are.
These resources are confidential and secure. If you are worried about sharing your struggles, these resources can help out while respecting your privacy. But if you feel comfortable talking to people in your life, family, friends and others do that too. If you have people you trust to talk with and who can talk with you about their struggles as well, you can create a supportive environment where concerns are shared rather than buried. I really believe having a support system and accessing it when you need it can go a long way. Struggles with mental health are not something you should ever have to struggle through by yourself.
If we want to end the stigma around mental health, we need to make sure we are talking about it in a way that makes us and others around us feel comfortable and reaching out when we need it, whether that is to our personal circle or to professional help. We need people to know they are not alone.
So this week of World Mental Health Day, please take note of yourself and those around you. Could you reach out to someone you think might be struggling? Is there something you wish you could get off your chest? Don’t wait. While dealing with mental health is daunting and seems tough to tackle at times, taking steps like this can be the start of a different result.