May is Mental Health Awareness Month
Want to know what I’m most proud of as founder of Resilience Naturopathic? Everyone I work with is dedicated to changing the world. We each take our own spin on how we see that happening, but invariably we come together with one common goal – to improve the way mental healthcare is delivered in this country.
I am reminded of this as we head into May – Mental Health Awareness Month.
Having a month designated to awareness of issues related to mental health is a huge step in the right direction. It gives us an opportunity to have a national discussion about the lack of access to care of your choice, stigma, and navigating life with a mental health diagnosis.
Stigma hurts us all.
Stigma is the number one obstacle to care for mental health conditions. This hurts all of us, not just the 1 in 4 of us who actually have a diagnosable mental health condition. It hurts us when we love someone who suffers from depression. It hurts our bosses, our classmates, our coworkers, our kids, and our community.
When we don’t feel safe to get the help we need without judgement, we don’t get help. So we don’t engage in life, work, family, or community.
Staying quiet about mental health – suffering silently – creates a cascading effect around us. Not only do we struggle, everyone we touch is impacted in one way or another from us not being able to feel our best.
So let’s start talking about it.
It’s scary – I know. It took me well over a decade to stop feeling shame and to speak up. Even as I type this, I feel that quiet voice telling me to stop. That it isn’t safe. Fortunately, I have started listening to the much stronger voice that tells the fear that it isn’t helpful.
People are suffering in silence. They think that if anyone knows they are suffering, they will fail. They will fail in relationships. They will be denied the career they want. Their future will be bleak.
The thing is – it is exactly the opposite.
Speaking up allowed me to find people who care.
When I decided to speak up, I found I was more able to help others. My career and purpose in life became so very clear to me, and that helped it to grow. I was able to have honest conversations with friends, family, and significant others. And all of these things allowed me to surround myself with people who were supportive and understanding in every aspect of my life.
So rather than ruining my life, speaking up actually saved my life. Speaking up gave me the happy, stable, and successful life that I have now. And it is more than I ever imagined in so many ways.
There is help. There is hope
I encourage everyone who is reading this to speak up. If you have overcome any mental health diagnosis and are living well, speak up. Others who are still struggling need to hear that it is possible. If you love someone who is struggling or has struggled in their life, speak up. People need to know that they are still deserving of love, even when they feel at their worst. And if you are struggling yourself, speak up. There is help, and there is hope. But we have to know you need help to give it to you.
Have a loved one that needs help?
Dr. Jennifer Bahr
Founder of Resilience Naturopathic