May of every year is dedicated to Mental Health Awareness Month!
It is dedicated to raise awareness around our mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness as a collective. It is a time for communities and individuals to come together to promote mental health and wellness, provide support to those who are struggling with their mental health issues, and advocate for better mental health care.
The universal theme for Mental Health Awareness Month in 2023 is "Together for Mental Health: Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers." This theme illuminates the need for collaboration and support to promote mental health and wellness overall. It also highlights the importance of breaking down barriers that prevent people from accessing mental health care and support.
Mental health is an essential part of overall well-being, and it affects every aspect of our lives.
Good mental health enables us to live and lead fulfilling lives, cope with stress, and maintain healthy relationships. However, mental health issues are prevalent and affect millions of people worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health and well-being. The pandemic has disrupted our lives, causing anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. The isolation, fear, and grief caused by the pandemic has also contributed to the rise in mental health issues worldwide. During Mental Health Awareness Month, it is important to prioritize mental health and wellness.
In 2022, I created the campaign #SpeakWellness to highlight the power of words in the mental health space. Me, being a lover of words and public speaking, believed that when we speak life, growth, wellness, positivity, and prosperity, out loud, we began to see how it manifests into our lives. Once I personally began to be more intentional in the words I spoke, I saw a instant change in my life. I started to grow perspective, have more faith, and become more patient, all the things that can essentially combat anxiety.
We hosted a #SpeakWellness Discussion Event at the salon last year that included panelists in the beauty, therapy, Human Resources, holistic and business space, where we had conversations around entrepreneurship, hair, therapy, communication and creativity as it correlates with mental health.
Below are some ways I believe you can start to promote mental health and wellness in your life:
1. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is essential for maintaining good mental health. Engage in activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress, such as exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature. Don't be afraid to say "no," if it is something you can't or don't want to commit to, it is best to not put yourself in the position to create burnout or become overwhelm based on others needs and unrealistic expectations they have on you. Be honest with what you can or can't handle. Pour your cup first, before you try to pour into others cup!
2. Seek Support
If you are struggling with your mental health, seek out support from family, friends, or mental health professionals. Therapy is cool! Talking to someone about your struggles can help you feel less alone and provide you with the support you need. You will also find that writing in your journal to express the things overpopulating your mind can be helpful as well. This is a tool you could use preparing for a therapy session, it will help you keep track of your everyday emotions.
3. Educate Yourself
Learn more about mental health and mental illness to reduce stigma and promote understanding. Don't be ashamed of your struggles, we all as a collective have a lot on our plate that can lead to depression, anxiety, sadness, and more. Educate yourself on the symptoms so that you can began to identify what you are feeling. I have found podcasts to be great tools to help me combat sadness, depression and anxiety. The representation is there, you have to just find it.
Here are a few podcasts that I recommend that have conversations around mental health, relationships, and lifestyle in-general:
4. Advocate for Change
Advocate for better mental health care and support in your community and the people directly around you. If you believe that there needs to be more work in the mental health space don't be afraid to engage with others on the subject. if you have a brand incorporate it in your brand, if you have a job that you love incorporate it in your shift. Find ways to stand up for mental health, especially for us in the black community. It takes a village to make a change, and it can continue with YOU!
Speak up against stigma and discrimination and support mental health initiatives and policies. Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health, wellness and well-being, reduce stigma, and promote support and understanding. Let's work together to build bridges and break barriers to support mental health and wellness for all.