Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month

Happy May! We made it through the terrible winter season, summer is on the way, and overall life is a bit sunnier. However, May is an extremely special month, and not just because it marks the beginning of sunny days and endless nights. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a month that I’m sure hits close to home for many of you, myself included.

Mental Health is so important to talk about, not only because as it affects so many people, but because we as a culture must work to end the stigma associated with mental illness. Whether it is anxiety, depression, eating disorders, OCD, or any other mental illness, these problems are very real, very scary, and deserve to be treated as seriously as physical conditions.

The mind is one incredibly strong force to be reckoned with, so as you can imagine, that force can be extremely powerful and damaging. Anyone who has ever struggled with their mental health knows that it is a lifelong struggle, and as a society we need to start supporting and helping those who are struggling.

The reality is that I have yet to meet one college student who has not struggled with a mental illness. Many people blame technology, or say it is because we are a “self-absorbed generation,” but the bottom line is that more and more people continue to struggle with their mental health. If you are personally struggling, let the month of May be your wake up call to ask for help, and know that you are worth more than how you may be feeling. If you know someone who is struggling, or just want to be a supporter, take this month to offer some hope and encouragement to those around you.

It is important to realize that the main reason people struggle with mental illness is that they do not believe in their own self-worth. It is not because they are selfish, nor are they “begging for attention.” These assumptions, and many of the other assumptions and inherent biases toward those struggling with mental health are truly damaging. Solving and treating mental health problems is a process that takes years, and mental illness never goes away entirely, it is a constant, complex, and continuous struggle.

I have personally been struggling with a mental health problem over the past year. Though I am not quite ready to share all the details here on the internet forever, I do think it’s important to note how mental illness affects so many people, and oftentimes people are very good at hiding how they are feeling.

All this being said, I wanted to share some ways I am practicing awareness this Mental Health Month, and hopefully encourage you to do the same.

Recognize your thoughts on mental health, especially if you may have inherent bias toward mental illness.

Yes, mental illness is real. It is an incredibly hard issue to solve. If you think otherwise, it is time to acknowledge the truth. Many mental illnesses are due to real chemical imbalances in the brain, and those affected often have zero control. They are stuck and need your help, so please do not assume they are wallowing in negative thoughts or just need to be happier.

Check in with your personal mental health.

Use the month of May to take some time and really analyze yourself. Practice mindfulness, ask yourself if you are truly happy with your life and how you feel. If you’re not, it’s perfectly okay, but you deserve to feel amazing, so now it’s time to fix it. I have recognized that I want to work on my mental health in order to feel good in my own skin, and usually just admitting that is the hardest part.

Check in with your loved ones.

Maybe you’re feeling wonderful this May. If so, help your friends, family and loved ones if they are struggling. You might be incredibly surprised to find out that someone close to you is dealing with mental health issues, because they might look and act fine around you.

Set some goals.

One of the best ways to motivate your mind is to set goals. Maybe your goal is to reach out to someone so you can seek help, maybe your goal is to help someone who has reached out to you. Maybe your goal is bigger than that, and you are going to start challenging your thoughts every day so you can be one step closer to mental well-being. No matter how small, set a goal for May, so you have a reason to persevere.

Create a habit that you will do every day to make yourself happier.

Pick a habit you want to start that is going to increase your happiness. Meditate, start a gratitude journal, drink more water, take a walk every day, etc. Try not to pick a habit like exercise or working harder, but pick one that is solely for your mental well-being.

Recognize your support system and love them endlessly.

I have made some amazing friends this year, and I have to recognize the people that love me and care about me. They are the people who will help me recognize my own self-worth. Trust me, you have people who love you and want to help you, it’s time to start leaning on them. They truly will be there to catch you if you fall.

If you stuck with me through all of that, thank you. Practicing mental health and understanding mental illness can be extremely difficult, but necessary. It’s time to take care of yourself, because you are worth it. There are so many people who love you, and you deserve to live a mentally happy life. Let’s all spread a little more love this May, the world could definitely use it.