I have been asked time and time again to blog on my website by various individuals, so I figured what better time to start a blog post then mental health awareness week. Albeit I am a week late, but better late than never, correct?
As a psychologist, I deal with mental health on a daily basis. It is estimated that one in five Canadians will struggle with mental illness at some point of time in their life. Though not all clients I see throughout a day have a diagnosed mental illness nor will they ever be. Many are struggling to cope and adapt to challenging stimuli that have presented in their environment. However, there are far more individuals that do not seek support then those who do. Why? The answer has been the same for years. Stigma. People often avoid seeking support as they do not want others to perceive them as weak, or they do not want to perceive themselves as weak.
Mental health awareness week tries to remove stigma and get individuals to seek support by increasing general knowledge of mental illness. Anyone can be affected by mental illness. There is no magic armor or pill that protects us and mental illness does not differentiate by age, gender, familial history, socioeconomic status etc. Not only do we want people to be aware of this, but we desire people to be proactive and seek support when needed. When you see warning signs in your life that something is off, reach out to community resources and support groups just as you would reach out to a mechanic for vehicle repairs when service lights go on. Not seeking support for your own mental health is like driving around with the engine light on – you may not notice issues immediately but if left untreated it can lead to more significant issues.
In the end there is truly only one person that suffers directly from not seeking support, you. This means that the one person we need to convince that help is available and a valuable resource is our self. On the bright side the one person that has the most control over mental illness is also ourselves. Take the time to treat your mind and your body right and it will reward you. How you do that is up to you and counselling is only one of many options available to maintain good mental health. Some of the easiest things you can do day to day are have a balanced diet, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, challenge your mind and engage in social activities.
Remember “the only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.” Alfred Adler