Survivor. (noun) A person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died. The remainder of a group of people or things. A person who copes well with difficulties in their life.
Fighter. (noun) A boxer. An aircraft designed to seek out and destroy enemy aircraft in the air and to protect bomber aircraft. A person who fights, struggles, resists, etc. A person with the will, courage, determination, ability, or disposition to fight, struggle, resist, etc. An animal, as a dog, trained to fight or having the disposition to fight.
Advocate. (noun) A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. (verb) Publicly recommend or support.
With Mental Health Awareness Month coming to an end, I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Sally Whittle and I am the face and voice of mental health here at Meinders Library. Why, you ask? Because I am all three of those things listed above. I am a survivor because I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety, and for many years, my brain was trying to kill me. I am a fighter because I still struggle with symptoms that make my daily living a rollercoaster and I sometimes can’t function. I am an advocate because I am raising awareness about mental health. Doing so can make the difference in the life of someone struggling and can also save lives.
Let’s recap the messages from this month. Week one was Mental Health Matters. There are many things that can fuel stigma around mental illness. That can make people ignore their mental health or make it harder for them to reach out for help. Some mental health conditions are invisible and you wouldn’t know the person is struggling without asking and having a conversation. Mental health matters and so do you!
Week two was Self Care. Remember, taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. Make self-care a priority. When it comes to mental health, self-care can help us manage stress, lower the risk of illness, and increase energy. Even small acts of self-care in our daily routine can have a big impact. Something as simple as a walk or chatting with a friend can make a huge difference.
Week three was Finding Help. There is no shame in seeking help for your mental health. It’s OK to not be OK. Start by talking with family and friends, or establishing care with your family doctor. If the problems in your life are stopping you from functioning well or feeling good, professional help can make a difference. It may save your life. Just know you are not alone, there is help available, and healing is possible.
Week four was Supporting Someone Else. Everyone can play a role in supporting mental health. If you notice someone may be struggling or having a hard time, ask “How are you?” and encourage honest answers. This provides the opportunity for others to share and feel heard. Often, just talking about it can be the first step in staying connected and helping get the support or treatment needed.
I hope my posts have helped spread awareness and spark conversation on this important and very stigmatized topic. As a way to promote mental health awareness year-round, I will be posting on a related topic once a month. If there is a specific topic you would like me to cover, please leave a comment or send an email to email@example.com and I will consider your request. In the meantime, stay happy, healthy, and safe!