Why I advocate normalizing mental health and encourage emotional education

normalizing-mental-health

People who know me probably already know that I am advocating the normalization of mental health (care) and emotional education in public organizations such as schools. Nothing is as important as making others familiar with things that are not so easy, they don’t yet understand or are intensely uncomfortable. Because if you stay open for conversation and discuss issues that normally remain undiscussed, there suddenly can be an understanding for others which will not only help the other person but also yourself. How much open conversation applies to all facets and subjects in life, Today want to focus on mental health.

Talking about the mind

Mental health. That dirty word that we give too little consideration because it’s just a difficult subject for many. Fortunately, nowadays it is much easier to talk about mental health and that is beautiful, because why would you only take your body in consideration when your head is ON every day and has to work crazy hard in everyday life? Why don’t we learn at school how to deal with our mind? Not every parent has that baggage to do so and we can not blame them for it.

Discussing mental health and making mental illnesses as normal as putting on your underpants every day has many advantages:

  • Both ‘sufferer’ and ‘non-sufferer’ learn to recognize symptoms and learn how to deal with them.
  • Because the subject is normal, it is not strange for a witness to speak to someone else about what they’ve seen or to offer help. Finding the way to therapy together becomes a breeze
  • Because it is normal, it takes away the pressure of ‘being normal’ for someone who suffers from mental illness and lowers the bar to ask for help or to give someone else a view. The step to actual therapy becomes smaller.
  • Therapy is difficult, but it is even more difficult if you have to do this alone and there is no support for it. If therapy would be just as common as going to school and education, it would be less lonely and you could even learn something from your ‘fellow students’.

What questions could you still have?

Some questions are pretty straight forward and thought of as logical. But you would be surprised how many opinions you come across and I will discuss some of them:

But all that information on mental conditions and symptoms? Wouldn’t people massively feel sick when they recognize any symptoms?

I get where you’re going, Dr. Googles! But no of course not. We are familiar with cancer and breaking our leg. If I’d have a lump right now, I’d leave it to a professional to examine it. Prevention, right? You’re even urged to keep an eye on your bodies, why not your head?

If you’re having a rough patch it doesn’t immediately mean you have a mental illness, but it is a good thing that you dwell on it for a moment and you’re not sure, a professional can give you a real opinion. Even better! Problem excluded or identified.

Pfew, what a relief: a diagnosis!

How does a diagnosis help?

A relief, but how? This is the point where you have no doubts and finally know: oh, this is where I’m at! How nice, I know what I can do with this information and from here on out it can only get better. It’s not something you should be scared of, even if you might feel ‘labeled’.

That’s nice right? “Madam, you broke your leg, these actions will follow” If I’d hear “yes, I see, there is something, but I do not know what” You’d have no idea what to do next!

Yes, but soon everyone is a BP or has an anxiety disorder! We all want something.

I prefer to call it emotion regulation, but hey! A label is a label and is all about offering you the appropriate help. Which would not be possible without a label. Everyone has a piece of the personality cake, nobody is the same, but imagine you can’t say to your colleague, yes I do not know where he/she belongs. The label is necessary to offer the best fitting therapy. Hurray! The best help, that’s all that counts. A label does not define who someone is.

Yes, good excuse!

Yes, okay, good story. But soon people will use it as an excuse to seek attention.

Well, those people will always exist. I know enough people who aren’t physically disabled in any way, but will always find a way to be more interesting. This will not be any different with mental health, but if there is one thing you’re taught in therapy, it’s that you are suffering from but not are your disease. Handling it is the main goal and is not a joker! And believe me, those who hold this ‘trump card’ do not want that at all! There is only one wish and that is to be able to function normally in an already difficult society. Besides if someone really is attention-grabbing or you decide to name someone as an ‘attention seeker’ would you not wonder why they would seek attention in the first place?

An excuse for work?

It is true that mental health is not easy to verify on the work floor. So it is important that there is staff present with a knowledge of mental health with who can discuss with an employee wheater he benefits from work or benefits from a day home. The mental condition of an employee could be monitored just as well! How that would prevent a lot of burnouts beforehand and it would only be profitable for a company or agency in the long run. Your employee will at his or hers most efficient.

Talking about Mental Health is perfectly normal, not trendy.

It’s fashionable, nowadays to have a mental illness! Back in the day, we didn’t have any of this.

Yes? Times change. The world is moving faster, your attention is distributed differently, so many stimuli and your work function is a composition of 6 others. In the past everything was different! Yes yes, that’s right. The environment and situation you lived in were different, but also was the way we dealt with things and they weren’t always necessarily good. In the past, slavery was common as well, we would not dare to think of it anymore, now do we? In the past, a ‘loony’ would get shock-therapy. Would we still dare? This is not how we treat people with mental health matters anymore and that makes perfect sense. That’s why it is no longer necessary to badmouth people who need help or are different than you are, or name them some sort of hipster as if mental health issues are trendy. In a while, we won’t understand anymore why we would think and act like this.

In the past, you did not hear about all the different types of mental illnesses.

No that is right. Does that mean it wasn’t there? Or was it just not visible? I’ll give you an example:

I have agreed with myself not to be ashamed of the burnout (not even considered a mental illness)  that I ended up in a while back and the help I need to sometimes get my life on track. I also talked about it openly and honestly with someone I just met. Even I said I had the idea that it is more common nowadays, thinking times are tough. He said: “burnout? Well, dear girl, I’ve experienced the exact same thing, but I’m going to tell you something. It’s not more common today as it was earlier. Like you’re able to talk about it now, or as my son does with his chronic depression is something you didn’t use to do back in the days. People were most certainly bothered by it, but it was invisible,  not spoken of. And that it is extremely heavy. And even more so, although you would think that it’s normal today, it still isn’t all accepted”, he noticed it in his own work. How tough it is when you don’t feel supported? Often you don’t need more than just that.

Really? Still not accepted?

Still not accepted? Yes, he is right and that’s why I think we have to share our experiences to give those who do not know a view into what it’s like to create a sense of understanding.

For example, someone told that he lost all his suppliers as soon as it became known that he was working on his depression. How wrong is that? When someone is taking a step in the right direction by improving himself and parties only see an incapable person? Someone who can’t do his job or is seen as a liability. But is that true? He doesn’t function any differently with his label as when he did when it was unknown that he had that ‘label’. Such a shame. You wonder, do these parties understand someone who suffers from mental illness and what consequences this has on daily life?

No, I do not think so and because I think it is very important, there will be a series of real stories from real people who can tell you exactly what it is like to live with mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression.

Tell a story yourself? Anonymous or openly? Help me normalizing mental health and encourage emotional education by sharing your story.

Feel welcome and free to contact here.

One Reply to “Why I advocate normalizing mental health and encourage emotional education”

  1. […] mental health, that it actually is quite normal. So I’m all for treating it as such and that’s why I’m advocating for normalizing mental health. Nobody makes it through life intact, so let’s not look weird and surprised when someone is […]

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