We are now a week past a national initiative (#BellLetsTalk) to bring attention to mental illness and mental health.
Are you more informed? Are you more empathetic? Are you less fearful?
Do you care more for the welfare of your fellow human beings this week than you did last week?
Is there a family that has not been affected in some way by mental illness?
Personally, I believe that the term ‘mental illness’ is an umbrella. Do you ever wonder why more conversations about mental illness are not taking place? I do. It is such a broad topic and it can be challenging to get a handle on any one aspect of it.
When we talk about physical illness, we refer to the specifics of a condition, like a broken leg, or cancer, or an ear ache, or indigestion, or a heart attack, etc. It’s easier to talk with family or friends about one issue, because when we can name something we then can have an understanding of what it’s about.
When we speak of mental health, it can be difficult to know exactly what that means. How about if we name the different states of mental illness so it will be easier to talk about? There are many different states of mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, addictions, eating disorders and schizophrenia. Within each of these definitions, there is a range of suffering, just as there would be in any physical illness.
Mental health is really about our emotional, psychological and social life. Mental illnesses can impact all those areas of your life or a loved ones life, and can often result in isolation. Anyone with a mental illness knows about isolation, and this is not right. People with physical illnesses do not get isolated, they get support. People with mental illnesses deserve the same.
In order to have meaningful discussions about mental illness/health, we need to focus on each specific disorder, and how any of them could in fact affect someone you know, even yourself.
When we are concerned about someone we care for, the phrase we often use is, ‘Take care of yourself’.
What do you really mean when you say that? Do you mean just take care of your physical body, or do you mean that you hope the individual will look after their emotional/mental state as well, including what they are thinking or worrying about. Generally, it means ‘take good care of your whole self’.
That’s what each and every one of us needs to do. Link our mental, emotional and physical health in the same framework, because each is impacted by the others when any form of illness strikes.
Let’s keep talking about mental health by learning more about mental illnesses.
Let’s take care of each other.