It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
The media headlines about mental health have been widespread in recent weeks. And it doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live, your race or ethnicity or even your profession. It’s clear we are all experiencing a toll on our mental wellbeing.
For those of us who work in public health communications and navigate living with our own mental health conditions (I’m looking at you, Melissa’s anxiety and depression!), we have found our moment to shine and help others by sharing our experiences, emphasizing it’s okay to feel your feelings and reinforcing the power of getting mental health support. Effective storytelling, coupled with accessible resources to support action, is one of the most powerful ways communicators can help inspire others to feel they can avoid a negative consequence, expect a positive outcome and believe they can be successful in taking action.
This Mental Health Action Day, Thursday, May 20, join my JPA Health colleagues as we take action to support our mental health.
Here are four ideas, we hope you’ll select at least one:
1. Check in with yourself
Mental health is part of overall health, and just as there are actions we do to take care of our physical health, we need to do the same for our mental health. Do what feels right to you, whether that is journaling, meditation or connecting with a friend or family member. Check out Mental Health is Health for an easy, simple way to identify how you are doing and what can help improve your emotional health.
2. Join a support group
Oftentimes, we think we are struggling alone. I personally felt this way when I first started navigating my depression as a young teenager. But support groups, whether peer-led or by a mental health professional, can help us see that there are others who may dealing with similar experiences and not feel so isolated or lonely in our own journey. Check out Mental Health America to find a support group online or in your local community.
3. Find a therapist
Therapy is a safe space to talk about how you’re feeling and thinking, without feeling like you’re being judged. Even though talking with friends and family is great for overall wellbeing, your loved ones are not trained to understand or deal with mental health conditions, so having a trained professional to listen is super helpful. Today, there are more ways than ever before to access and afford mental health services based on your personal needs, such as:
- Government Support: Your local community health center may provide mental health care services via a sliding fee scale, depending on your ability to pay. Additionally, Medicaid offers mental health care services and covers mandatory eligibility for specific populations such as low-income families, qualified pregnant women and children and disabled individuals.
- Nonprofit Resources: Several nonprofits can help in your search for a therapist. For example, the American Psychiatric Association has a Find A Psychiatrist database to tailor your search based on what you’re seeking to get care for, the languages spoken by the physician and whether they accept Medicare, Medicaid or insurance payments. There’s also organizations like the Black Mental Health Alliance or the American Society of Hispanic Psychiatry to help individuals find Black or Hispanic/Latino psychiatrists.
- Online: Online programs also offer programs to help with mental health, such as Doctor on Demand that offers a free assessment and is a covered benefit by most health plans or employers or MDLive that offers a medical consult from $0-$82 depending on insurance.
4. Sharing is caring
We learn at the youngest of ages the importance of sharing with others. This could not be truer than when sharing our personal stories and experiences. My whole childhood my dad struggled with anxiety and depression; but, when I was a pre-teen, that morphed into an addiction to painkillers—to him, a way that was easily accessible to subdue his emotional pain. Growing up I was very guarded and barely ever talked to others about my dad’s mental health conditions and opioid use disorder. It wasn’t until after his death that I started opening up and sharing my story. That’s when I first learned, every story matters. Every story has the potential to help someone else and sharing my own story can help other families not lose a loved one to a senseless epidemic, like I lost my father to opioids.
If you have concerns about your or someone else’s mental health, please call 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or text ACTION to 741-741 for a free, 24/7 confidential conversation.