In recent years, mental health has taken an important place on the agenda of many local and central governments around the world. Funds and resources have been allocated to support people suffering from mental health problems.
And while this is a great step forward, unfortunately, there is no denying that the stigma of mental illness still exists, especially in certain communities and populations. If you believe in how important good mental well-being is to a happy, healthy life, then you should do your part to break the taboo around mental illness.
We promise: It’s a lot easier than you think, and you don’t have to be a doctor or mental health expert to do it. So how can you do your part? Read on and we’ll give you eight great tips on how to become a true advocate for good mental health.
1. Be open about your own struggles….
It’s inevitable: at some point in our lives, we all face some sort of crisis. Some events, such as the loss of a loved one, the end of an important relationship, or childhood trauma, can affect our mental well-being in many ways.
The first step to becoming a true mental health advocate is to recognize your own issues and be open and willing to share them with others. This can mean many things: you can choose to confide in just one or two close friends or family members, or you can use a platform like your social media account to tell your story to the world.
Whichever approach you choose, you should make sure you feel comfortable doing it – if it’s forced, it won’t serve its purpose.
2. Encourage others to do the same.
If you choose to be vulnerable and share your experience of mental health problems with others, you should use this as an opportunity to encourage those who talk to you or read your story to share their own experiences as well.
Again, the person may choose to tell you in private, or they may ask for your support in talking publicly about their problems. Either way, try to be there for them and show them your support in whatever they choose to do.
3. pay attention to the language you use.
It may not sound that important, but what you say and the words you choose to describe mental health problems can have a huge impact on those who listen. For this reason, you should really pay attention to your language.
Prefer neutral or positive words and avoid stereotypes and old-fashioned expressions that sound ignorant at best and insulting at worst.
4. Practice what you preach: Volunteer for mental health charities.
The language around mental health is crucial because it shapes the discourse on a global and class level. But you should also demonstrate your support in a more tangible way.
Volunteering for a mental health charity can be a fantastic start and become a very rewarding, eye-opening experience. By choosing to dedicate some of your free time to this important cause, you can begin to make a difference in people’s lives.
There are many ways to volunteer, from salespeople to office workers, from marketing to fundraising. Just pick something, and stick with it for the long haul.
5. Emphasize the connection between mental and physical health.
The connection between good mental health and good physical health is very strong: neither is more important, and both are essential to a happy, fulfilling life. Yet many people still believe that mental health is less important compared to physical health, so they often neglect problems with the mind but focus on the smallest physical ailment.
Mental health is not in a lower league than physical health: the two are and should always be considered complementary and interrelated. Make sure you always make this point clear when talking about mental health.
6. constantly learn and educate yourself and others.
If you are serious about advocating for mental health, you must be ready and willing to educate yourself and keep learning. Read and watch the news, buy books and magazines about mental health, listen to topical podcasts.
And while you’re doing all that, try to get other people on board so they too can educate themselves and help break the stigma around mental health.
7. Talk about mental health in the workplace.
More and more companies across all industries are finally taking the mental well-being of their employees more seriously, and that’s good news. However, the road ahead is still long and treacherous, and much work needs to be done.
You can be an important piece of this puzzle. By talking to your colleagues and managers about mental health, you can play an active role in challenging the taboo and empowering your organization to better care for the mental health of its employees.
This can be done in a variety of ways: by supporting mental health services; by hosting baking contests and other events to support mental health charities; by supporting flexible work arrangements that allow for a better work-life balance.
8. listen compassionately to friends or family members in crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic that shocked the world this year has had a massive impact on many people’s mental health, often in a very negative way. People who had never suffered from poor mental health began to struggle with new fears, intrusive thoughts, and traumas.
For this reason, it is important to check in with your friends and family members. If any of them confide in you to tell you about their mental health issues, be kind, non-judgmental, and supportive. And if you are seriously concerned about their well-being, don’t be afraid to refer them to local mental health services or contact them yourself on their behalf.