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Why is there a stigma surrounding the topic of Mental Health?

In recent weeks, the focus on mental health has reappeared in the forefront of daily conversations. During these conversations around the dinner table, in the workplace, or hanging out with friends, everyone will empathize and agree that there should be more resources for those who struggle with mental health. However, the conversation tends to stop there. Why? Maybe it is because we typically see ourselves as "normal" and at times say “I can figure this out”,” I am just having a down moment”, “My family & friends will think I am crazy and will judge me” or “ I’m weak if I admit I need mental help”. These beliefs will lead to individuals rarely seeking help and continuing to suffer.

Mental health concerns are as common as physical health concerns. However, society has painted a picture that those who struggle with mental illness are different and that it is not a common part of our everyday interactions. Most believe that mental health symptoms only affect a small segment of society, however in reality more individuals struggle with mental health than we often care to admit.

One of the contributing factors to the stigma around mental health is the stereotypical way we imagine mental illness and how it appears or presents itself in society. Mental health does refer to symptoms that are unusual but also refers to how we manage our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It also includes how we interact with others, how we manage stress, and our decision-making for a healthier life.. Our mental health can be affected by past events or current life events which can become overwhelming for us to deal with . If you find it difficult to manage how you think or feel about daily stressors and interactions, it may be a good time to speak with someone.

Setting aside how we feel and think about certain situations is not an effective coping strategy over time. Eventually those emotions and thoughts will erupt and it could be at an inopportune moment in your life. However, the longer we deny our feelings and thoughts, the more damage can occur, not only to our mental health, but our physical health as well. When we have physical pain, the longer we ignore it, typically the more damage is done to our body.

The following are examples of mental health symptoms that may present in our daily lives, and could compromise our mental health if we do not seek care. Disruption in our sleeping and eating routines, dramatic mood changes, withdrawing from previous activities once enjoyed, ruminating thoughts, nervousness, decline in cognitive functioning, or unable to manage increased stress, to name a few.

Your mind and body are connected, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We receive information about the quality of our lives in each modality. If we are ignoring any part of the system, other parts of it will respond. When one area of our life is challenged, it will affect the others. We encourage you to seek help. Find someone outside of your familiar relationships to talk to, someone with true care and concern and wisdom. Allow them to hear your heart and reflect goodness back to you. If what you receive is not all good, take the good, and toss the other aside. Consider yourself a garden where good seeds are cultivated and weeds are plucked up and thrown out. You do have a life worth living, live it mindfully.

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