Before the advent of Mental Health Advocates, any form of Awareness about Mental Health or constant conversation about the need to be mentally aware, a lot of us solely related mental health illnesses to people lurking on the street. Yes, the people you and I sometimes stay away from.
I recently realized that a number of us still live with this narrative as I met one person out of that number. In commemoration of World Mental Health Day, I decided to engage a colleague in a discussion about mental health. I could guess he rarely had one of such conversations as he clearly looked uncomfortable and even voiced his thoughts. Using his exact words, he said – This is a very odd conversation.
Talking About Mental Health
Why do some of us still go around with the idea that talking about mental health is an odd conversations? What conversations should we rather have? Why do we feel more comfortable talking about Football, Food, Fashion, Relationships etc but when it comes to discussions about mental health, our voices are really low or we do not bother engaging in such conversations.
This is not to say, things have not evolved. Infact, they are and I appreciate that more people are starting conversations about mental health, more people are open to listening and more people now know how to respond to a person who needs help. This is definitely happening as a result of constant training and awareness and one of such group making information available to Nigerians and the world is Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative. I volunteer with them and you should subscribe to their news letter for up to date information on how to deal with various mental health illnesses.
Most of us are yet to see the need to be mentally aware, we feel we are in a good place and do not need information about mental health. This singular adds to the reason why the stigma associated with mental health illnesses keep rising.
Information is a key part of meaningful living and it helps one make better choices as it relates to human interaction, self development and most phases in life including mental health. Here are 3 reasons why you need to be mentally aware:
Be Mentally Aware To Help Yourself.
When you are mentally aware, you gain unmeasurable knowledge and a clearer meaning of what mental illnesses are. You are able to identify them for yourself and know the best way to handle the symptoms.
We all go through one mental health issue or the other and at very different levels. Being mentally aware allows you pursue a wholesome life, helps you create a good living atmosphere so that you can be productive at home, work and in public places.
Being mentally aware gives you the opportunity to identify stressors and triggers to your mental health. Because you are mentally aware, you are able to talk about various mental health illnesses without fear of stigma.
Our mental health is paramount for meaningful living and you know firsthand that it is important to be mindful of your values, practice self care and to seek help when necessary.
Be Mentally Aware To Help Other People.
When your friend, colleague or loved one is going through a mental health issue, it affects you as well (maybe even more than it affects them). This is because some mental illnesses could affect the brain and at that point your mentally ill friend is oblivious of his or her actions. In a situation like this, you are left with the opportunity to make a decision that will be beneficial to his/her health.
As an individual, if you know nothing about mental health, you might panic or even make wrong decisions that can endanger your friends life. Ignorance is no longer an excuse these days as information is easily accessible.
Imagine being able to savor a mental health situation because you are equipped with information and can make informed decisions for people around you.
You can positively use the information you have to advocate for those being victimised, you are able to be sensitive to their feelings, you know the right words to say, you know how to show a sense of community and make them understand they are not alone and you can proffer adequate help including contacting medical professionals.
Be Mentally Aware To Educate People.
Humans generally avoid illnesses or situations they do not understand. For example, a lady shared an experience on Instagram – she had allergies which made her face swell up and she complained bitterly about how people avoided her just because they had no understanding of her situation.
That is a clear example of how people with mental health illnesses are stigmatized.
Truly, this can only be reduced when more people who are mentally aware teach other people about mental health and how to respond to the needs to those who mental health illnesses.
When you are mentally aware, you are able to share your knowledge about mental health with others, change the negative narrative, share your experience to empower others, encourage powerful conversations and impact small communities, encourage people to get involved, encourage people to stop stigmatization.
Your mental health is truly important. In the same light, being mentally aware gives you the opportunity to look out for yourself and for others.
Share your thoughts.
How do you stay mentally aware?
How has mental health awareness helped you?
I always love to read from you