As this month comes to an end, we wanted to take a moment to highlight Mental Health Awareness Month, a national movement that highlights the importance of ending the stigma surrounding mental health and a cause our brand feels more passionate about than ever.
As the lasting effects of isolation and loss due to COVID-19 continue to be seen, the importance of creating spaces for open conversations about mental illness continues to grow.
In a given year, 1 in 5 people in the United States live with mental illness according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). That’s over 44 million people. Of those 44 million people, only about 40 percent received treatment. Due to the lack of knowledge and stigma surrounding mental health, many people keep their feelings quiet and are afraid to ask for help due to shame and for the fear of being alienated, judged, or treated differently. These fears and stereotypes can all lead to unnecessary blame, suffering, and hardship which in the end creates a serious barrier to diagnosis and treatment.
To help bring light to these issues, we put together a list of self-care practices and ways we can all work together to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness, as well as the lack of understanding around supporting those suffering with it.
NEVER be afraid to ask for help.
If you or someone you love are currently struggling with or experiencing symptoms of mental illness, know that you are not alone. The benefits of getting mental health treatment far outweigh the initial fear of seeking help and the sooner you seek professional help, the easier it will be to get the assistance you need. Talk to someone about what’s going on and start living your life to the fullest.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting BC2M to 741741.
Knowledge is power.
Judgment typically stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding. Educating ourselves and others on the subject of mental illness helps us recognize symptoms, seek proper treatment, and end the stigma surrounding it.
Examine your attitude and beliefs when it comes to mental illness and mental health. Recognize and work to shift any culturally influenced mental health stereotypes and judgmental beliefs. Treat mental illnesses and mental health the same way you treat physical illnesses and physical health.
“The humanity we all share is more important than the mental illnesses we may not” -Elyn R Sarks
Provide a space for open conversations about mental illness to help reduce the stigma surrounding it. Talk to your loved ones. Start a conversation that matters. Ask them how they’re REALLY doing. Replace silence with questions and understanding. Destigmatize conversations around mental health so that no one is afraid to seek help.
Bring Change 2 Mind has created an amazing tool to show the many ways we can talk about mental health with people in our lives. https://bringchange2mind.org/talk/talk-tool/#
Check on your friends and family members who are struggling with mental health. Be a shoulder for them to lean on.
If you know someone struggling with a mental illness, make sure they know they are not alone. Listen to them and be understanding. Show love and forgiveness.
Mindful and Active Listening
Listen to understand, not respond.
Listening is just as important as talking when it comes to normalizing and destigmatizing conversations surrounding mental health.
Active listening allows your friends, family, and loved ones to feel heard, valued, and understood. When someone’s sharing something with you, don’t be thinking about what you are going to say next while they’re talking. Be present and try to avoid looking at your phone or acting distracted. Focus on what they’re actually saying and take a moment to let it soak in before responding. Acknowledge their feelings and let them know it’s okay to feel this way. This validation increases the chances of them continuing to open up to you and others in the future.
As we listen more sensitively to people, they start to listen to themselves more carefully and pay attention to their thoughts and feelings (Rogers & Farson, 1957). It’s just as important for us to understand and recognize our own feelings as it is for us to recognize others so we know when to seek help.
“Give yourself the same care and attention that you give others and watch yourself bloom.” -Unknown
Small Daily Ways to Practice Self Care
Eat healthy. Get enough sleep. Exercise. Brush your teeth. Take your vitamins. Make your bed and keep your space tidy. Stretch. Meditate. Spend at least 20 minutes outside. Unplug and disconnect from social media and the internet. Journal. Dance. Listen to music.
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” -John Muir
Nature is a place to feel at peace and connect. Nature is a place to be your true self. Nature is everywhere.
We know we’re constantly encouraging you to take advantage of the great outdoors but did you know research shows that the benefits of getting outdoors and enjoying nature can directly impact our mental health and overall well-being?
Spending time outdoors doesn’t always have to mean hiking to the top of a mountain or sleeping in a tent in the woods. Even just a walk outside has tons of positive effects. It simply allows us to slow down and breathe.
Next time you’re outside try to focus on being in the moment. Disconnect from any negative or stressful thoughts going on in your head and really tune into your senses. Listen to the birds chirping. Feel the sunshine on your skin. Soak in all the beautiful colors you see. Remind yourself how beautiful our world is and how lucky we are to live this life.
“Just because no one else can health or do your inner work for you doesn’t mean you can, should, or need to do it alone.” -Lisa Olivera
As social beings, we are not meant to live in isolation. We need human connection. Finding, maintaining, and nurturing a sense of community is critical for us to thrive as humans. Community is not just a group of people, it’s a feeling of acceptance, love, and support. Because isolation and feelings of loneliness are already common symptoms of mental illness, investing in building new relationships and improving current ones is a great way to practice self-care and improve your overall quality of life.
"Having a simplified and uncluttered home is a form of self-care."
Deep clean, declutter, and organize your space. Take back control and create an environment you love to live in. You look around and see a sink full of dirty dishes, stacks of unopened mail cluttering your countertops, and laundry pilled up to the ceiling. Suddenly a wave of anxiety and stress hits and you find yourself paralyzed on the couch. It happens to the best of us.
When you feel overwhelmed your messy house, making a list is a good first step to getting started. Figure out what needs to be done first and and what can wait. Tackle each room little by little. Each time you check something off your list, reward yourself. Any small bit of progress will likely motivate you to continue and help you find clarity in the chaos.
Once you've decluttered and organized your space, try to maintain it so it doesn't get out of hand again. Dedicate 30 minutes a day to tidying up. "The Anxiety and Depression Association of America indicates that the physical activity of cleaning coupled with the end result of a cleaner home helps reduce stress, feelings of anxiety, and depressive symptoms."
The capacity to learn is a gift
This one applies here as well! The challenge of learning new things gives us a sense of fulfillment and improves self-confidence. Continue educating yourself and absorbing knowledge to be the best version of yourself you can be.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
Self-care IS being kind to yourself but did you know being kind to others is just as important for self-care? Evidence suggests that "giving back" and helping others improves one's overall well-being and psychological mindset.
Take some time to do what makes your soul happy.
Learn a new hobby or reconnect with an old one. As individuals, it’s important for us to spend time doing things we enjoy and are passionate about.
“To be able to care for the people you love, you must first take care of yourself”-National Alliance on Mental Illness
Take care of your body. Eating healthy and getting the proper amount of exercise is crucial to living a happy and fulfilled life.
The mental health conversation has come a long way, but it is still just the beginning. We hope to continue using our platform to spread awareness of mental illness and the importance of self-care. We hope to continue being a part of the change.
Mental Health Resource List: https://greatist.com/grow/resources-when-you-can-not-afford-therapy#mental-health-apps
Mental Health Crisis Resources:
If you or a loved one is considering suicide, know that 24/7 confidential help is always here.
- SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE – 1-800-273-8255
- (En Español – 1-888-628-9454)
- THE TREVOR PROJECT (LGBTQ Crisis and Suicide Hotline) – 866-488-7386
- VETERANS CRISIS LINE – 1-800-273-8255
- TEEN CRISIS LINE – 310-855-4673
- HOPELINE TEXT SERVICE – Text “MN” or “HopeLine” to 741741
- FARM AID SUPPORT LINE: 800-FARM-AID (327-6243)
Sign the Pledge
Help NAMI spread the word. Take the StigmaFree pledge and encourage your family and friends to do the same. This initiative, this movement is our attempt to reverse the harmful effects of stigma. So, when you hear someone using stigmatizing language, correct them. If you see someone using misleading stereotypes, educate them. And never forget to see people for who they are, not for how they act during their darkest days.
Together, we will turn the tide on stigma by spreading awareness, support, and understanding for every person who experiences mental illness.
Social Media resources to share to help end the stigma:
- I'm inspired to build better lives for those affected by mental illness. I'm #StigmaFree. Are you? www.nami.org/stigmafree
- Support NAMI's effort to provide education, support & awareness for those w/ mental illness & their families www.nami.org/Donate