Updated August 2020
[This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project and was written by Marni Amsellem, Ph.D, a psychologist on Amwell.]
As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, it's important to recognize the importance of being aware of mental health care well beyond the month of May. When the term “mental health” is discussed, often the concept that comes to mind is "mental illness,” and it confuses things when the terms are used interchangeably. Mental health and mental illness are clearly strongly related, but they are actually not opposites on a single continuum. You can be affected by mental illness and simultaneously engage in activities or practices that promote mental health.
Regardless of whether you are personally affected by mental illness, it is always timely to openly discuss the importance of living our lives the best we can to not only help ourselves but help others we care about feeling well, mentally, and emotionally. So how can you facilitate awareness this month and the rest of the year? Here are some suggestions:
- Share personal experiences or stories.
- Offer compassion to someone dealing with a mental illness.
- Integrate mental health-related topics and Address mental illness in everyday conversation.
- Do something for yourself every day that you know will be good for your mental health and encourage others to do the same.
- Read others’ first-hand accounts that you see so bravely detailed and shared online.
- Recognize warning signs in others and in yourself that may indicate the need for professional help. There are so many resources available online that are devoted to education and support, if and when you need it.
- Learn what to do if/ when you suspect that you or someone you know would benefit from or is in certain need of professional help.
- Don't be afraid to be there to support someone who might need your help.
- Recognize when the stress that you are experiencing reaches an uncomfortable level and talk to someone about ways to manage that stress.
- Overcome the fear and stigma associated with mental health care.
- After reading a personal story related to mental health, reflect on what the author is describing. Share the article with your own network or with other individuals you know who might appreciate seeing it.
Mental health and mental illness is a part of all of our lives, regardless of our comfort level with discussing these topics. By opening ourselves up to understanding, compassion, and readiness to take action, you’ll have made a major difference for yourself or someone you care about. A little awareness can definitely go a long way.
How do you plan to share awareness for the rest of the year? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter with #AmwellHealth and we will do our part to spread the word.