Did you know May is Mental Health Month? In the United States, nearly 19% of adults received an applicable diagnosis in 2012, and that doesn’t even count the many that go undiagnosed for various reasons. So why, then, does talking about your own mental health still feel so taboo?
At WhyWhisper, we put a lot of emphasis on self-care. We recognize that it’s easy to get too focused on societal definitions of success, a situation that often leads to putting yourself second (or third, or fourth). But the problem with that is that it’s unsustainable. It’s important to prioritize your own needs and pay attention to signs of burnout, anxiety, or depression, so you can work on developing ways to address or cope with them as early as possible.
The more that each of us is willing to talk about mental health openly, the less taboo it will be. This month, we encourage you to continue to break down the stigma around mental health issues by joining the conversation online.
Here are some incredible digital resources to get you started:
Before you jump into the conversation about mental health, you might find it helpful to brush up on the facts. Mental Health America really encourages individuals and organizations to get involved in the conversation, so much so that they’ve developed an outreach toolkit that includes information about mental health generally, as well as information about this year’s theme – B4Stage4. The B4Stage4 campaign’s aim is to encourage individuals to address mental health issues at the first signs, rather than waiting until ‘Stage 4,’ when issues have gone untreated for too long. Mental Health America contends that, when symptoms persist, it “typically takes ten years from the time they first appear until someone gets a correct diagnosis and proper treatment.” So it’s crucial to consider and address symptoms when they first arise, rather than waiting. Use this toolkit to get up to speed on the latest research around mental health, as well as review pointers on how to talk about sensitive topics in helpful and effective ways.
Elefriends is a social network for the mental health community. If you need support or want to talk about any mental health issues you’re experiencing, but don’t necessarily want to share with everyone in your existing social networks, Elefriends might be just what you’re looking for. With Elefriends, you can share your own personal struggles or offer advice to others who are experiencing similar struggles with mental health. It originally started as a Facebook group in 2013, but the high response level made it necessary for its founders to turn it into its own forum. As of December of 2014, over 200,000 people had joined Elefriends, and that number continues to rise. If you don’t need support yourself, spread the word about this incredible resource to your network. You never know when someone in your life could be struggling.
It Gets Brighter is working to challenge the stigma and misconceptions around mental illness by encouraging individuals who are struggling to post videos of themselves sharing their stories. It Gets Brighter helps people get through tough times in many ways: It provides an outlet for individuals who are experiencing mental health issues to share their stories with others who want to hear and talk about them. It also provides a community to those who are having a hard time, where they can connect with others who have been through similar things and have real advice to share. Many of the videos on the It Gets Brighter forum encourage others to seek help, and openly break down the stigma around doing so.
The Creating Community Solutions Initiative, part of the National Dialogue on Mental Health, was started to encourage conversation about mental health. Creating Community Solutions provides resources that help people talk about mental health and address it in their communities. One incredible way they do this is through the #TextTalkAct campaign. All you need to do is gather a small group of individuals who will all text “Start” to 89800 at the roughly same time. The group will then receive a series of questions around mental health for them to discuss together. Creating Community Solutions’ official national conversation will happen on May 7th, National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, but you can start your own #TextTalkAct conversation anytime from now until the end of May.
Access to mental health care is a huge issue in this country. The unfortunate reality is that not everyone has the time or money to seek the professional help that they need, and many mental illnesses go undiagnosed or untreated as a result. This is where Lantern comes in. Lantern is a team of researchers and clinicians who have used their expertise and clinical research to develop web and mobile programs that allow individuals to assess and address their mental health. Lantern’s process starts with a mental health assessment, so they have an idea of what types of tools might be most effective in your particular case. While these kinds of tools aren’t always the answer, they are certainly helpful to those who are looking for mental health support, but don’t have access to professional support.
We’re thrilled that mental health resources are becoming increasingly available, and we will continue to fight against the stigma by talking about it openly. We hope you join us.
Do you have other ways for individuals to get involved in conversations about mental health online? Every avenue makes a difference. Share with us, and we’ll spread the word to our community. Here’s how to connect with us: