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Why I Spoke About Mental Health in My Wedding Speech

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This summer I got married, and I could not be happier. It was a perfect day, and everything went according to plan. Many of our friends and family had come to celebrate with us, and I can guarantee they saw nothing but smiles from us all day. So why, when we were so happy, did I bring up mental health during my speech? For exactly that reason.

Mental illness often isn’t something people on the outside can easily see. Barely anyone in that room knew my wife Steph has a mental illness, and many probably still don’t. This will likely have also been true for the 16 other people at the wedding who statistically are struggling with a mental health-related problem (one in four people do). Many people just aren’t aware of it, and that is something that needs to change.

We bought wedding favors from Rethink Mental Illness, which came as place cards and a badge. During my speech, I drew everyone’s attention to them, let them know a donation had been made, and encouraged them to look into mental health.

I find it disheartening that so many people are clueless to the pain that mental illness can cause, even if they are close to someone struggling. I wanted to shout this to my wedding guests and make them realize what they couldn’t see. But I couldn’t. I spoke for what, at the time, felt like a pitiful 30 seconds, and I thought it had all been a waste. Then I saw people wearing the badges. I spoke to a couple of people who said they liked what I said, and even a family member who said she was one of the one in four. Then I remembered why I wanted to do it.

If the few words I said were heard by ears that didn’t know anyone cared or understood, then I am happy. If the few words I said encouraged one person to Google mental health awareness, then they did their job. I was never going to change the world, but I might have made one or two people feel better, one or two people think. Although that may never be enough, it’s a start.

Image via Thinkstock.

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Originally published: November 22, 2016
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