Whether you are struggling with a mental illness or you are going through a very positive time in your life, your mental health journey does not stay stagnant. Life provides us with celebratory moments, but it also provides challenges that test our emotions and our mental well-being. Who do we share these experiences with? Who do we talk to when the going gets tough? Are you comfortable enough to speak with your family or friends openly and honestly? Maybe it is easier to speak with a stranger who can provide you with an unbiased opinion. In this blog we discuss the stigma around mental health, the power of opening up, and why you may actually want to speak with a stranger about your mental health.
STIGMA AROUND MENTAL HEALTH
Mental health is just as important as physical health, so why is it a hard topic for many to discuss? Without discussion there can be misunderstanding, and with misunderstanding fear and shame can take over our experiences. The stigma around mental health can even lead to discrimination by friends, family, and co-workers. Mental illnesses are more common than we think but, due to the stigma around opening up, people fear seeking treatment. Failing to seek help can lead to a decline in one’s mental health and present risks for the individual. Speaking to someone who is understanding and open minded can lead to a healthier mindset, but who will listen? It’s not always easy to describe how you’re feeling or why you may be feeling the way you do, but the more we talk openly about our mental health in society the more chances we have to end the stigma.
THE POWER OF OPENING UP
Whether you are speaking to a loved one, your professional therapist, or a stranger, educating more people about mental health has the power to diminish the stigma surrounding it. It could be difficult to open up at first, but you may be surprised to learn that more people in your life then you thought are dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and more. Opening up is also a powerful first step towards accessing the help you need.
If you are unsure how to relay your thoughts and feelings, writing in a journal is a great way to sort through your emotions. If you are struggling with the confidence of speaking to someone you can practice on your own and become more comfortable speaking your thoughts out loud or in front of a mirror. If you are concerned about a family member or friend that is struggling with their mental health, reaching out to them or to a professional for advice is also a great step towards ensuring you and your loved ones remain safe and receive timely assistance.
BENEFITS OF SPEAKING TO A PROFESSIONAL
Seeking help from a professional counsellor provides a number of benefits to your mental health. No matter how big or small you believe your issues to be, opening up to someone in an unbiased and safe environment is extremely freeing and allows you to emotionally process. Not only will you be able to share what you are feeling, but the professional will be able to provide you with ways to understand and work with your emotions. During therapy you receive assistance for learning how to cope with your mental health, as well as learn long-term coping mechanisms that will benefit you for the rest of your life. You will learn how to deal with any of the problems that may come your way.
Many mental illnesses such as depression can also cause physical side effects. Speaking with a professional and dealing with mental health issues head on can even relieve some of these physical ailments. For example, you may improve your sleeping, experience less headaches, and have less stomach issues.
By becoming more self-aware of your own mental well-being, you also become more aware of those around you and how you interact with and respond to them. Mindfulness is another great benefit of speaking to a professional counsellor. You may also start learning more about your close friends and family in a way that helps you build healthier relationships with them. It may be that someone close to you has also been struggling and you were unaware before you sought treatment yourself. With more understanding of your own situation, you can lend support to those you love.
Speaking to a stranger about your mental health may be difficult but it has the power to fight the stigma surrounding mental health, provide growth and understanding in your own journey of healing, and help you understand and support loved ones in need. Positive change starts with small steps and these small steps add up quickly! If you would like to discuss mental health with our team or talk to a professional for more information, please contact us HERE.