10 Things to Remember on World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day. As an advocate, writer, psychologist and patient, here are some things I think everyone should keep in mind:

1. Mental health isn’t just a topic for people struggling, their families and professionals. Like physical health, we all want to keep in “good shape,” so we have to be aware of ways our mental health is negatively affected and what to do if that happens.

2. Having a mental health issue doesn’t make you weak. In fact, accepting it gives you the strength to push back against the stigma in society and to put a face to something that many people know little about.

3. Our mental health can be hereditary. That’s why it’s so important, among many reasons, to be open with your nuclear family about your past and present mental health status. When we have open communication about our mental health, we strengthen relationships and can better help one another.

4. Going to the psychologist or the psychiatrist doesn’t mean you are “crazy.” In fact, it can be an act of self-care and self-love.

5. It can be overwhelming for both patients and families to deal with a diagnosis. So be gentle with the way you use and talk about mental illness. Don’t make jokes, instead, provide a safe space for those struggling.

6. A diagnosis doesn’t define what you are capable of doing (or not doing). You are more than a label, and even though you are dealing with some things that can make your day-to-day journey a little bit more difficult, the diagnosis doesn’t determine who you are or your limitations.

7. Acceptance is key. Many of these conditions can have long-lasting affects or come and go.

8. Not every mental health diagnosis is treated with psychiatric medications. If you do take medication, please don’t feel ashamed. And if you don’t, don’t shame others for choosing to.

9. Find joy and pleasure in little things such as your spiritual life, helping others, art, writing, practicing a sport or reading. These don’t make symptoms disappear, but it can make things easier to deal with.

10. We need to talk about suicide. Talking about it doesn’t “cause” people to feel suicidal or act on suicidal thoughts. It’s a growing public health issue that needs more attention. I think the first step to breaking the stigma is education. If you have suicidal thoughts, don’t feel like you are damaged or like you are a burden. There is help out there. You would be amazed at how many of us are/have been there.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Unsplash photo via Anete Lusina

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Mental Health

abstract people standing in front of the world

5 Ways to Make Every Day a 'Mental Health Day'

Today is World Mental Health Day, and as Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter timelines began filling with personal stories, inspiring quotes and tips for “living well,” I woke up feeling jaded. I would never argue more people talking about mental health is a bad thing. But when you’re living with a mental illness or advocating for “mental health” every [...]
Man in green hoodie points gun

Why Equating Violence With Mental Illness Is Problematic

Having grown up on the border of California and Nevada, the recent shooting in Vegas hits close to home. My friends and family can fly to the city in less than an hour to enjoy concerts, luxury hotels and the Las Vegas strip. My Monday morning was spent making sure friends and family were not [...]
Kirstie Alley

What to Know About Kirstie Alley's Tweets Linking Psych Meds to the Las Vegas Shooting

Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Elizabeth Cassidy, The Mighty’s News Intern, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.  When tragedy in the form of violent shootings occur, it typically doesn’t take long for the media [...]
evan peters american horror story

'American Horror Story' Re-Edits Mass Shooting Scene Out of Respect for Las Vegas Victims

At the New Yorker Fest panel on Saturday, “American Horror Story” producer and show runner Ryan Murphy shared the show decided to re-edit a mass shooting scene from an unreleased episode of the the latest season, “Cult.” Murphy’s decision to keep most of the violence off camera was made out of respect for victims of the Las [...]