It’s been said a thousand times, but I’m going to say it again.
Last week, while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw an interesting video from BuzzFeed, a news entertainment website. The video features a female voice, and it’s done in the style of a woman writing a letter to her younger self, who experienced emotional abuse. The woman tells the child she knows her mother says hurtful things and may never understand how much she hurt her, and even though she feels worthless, life is going to get better.
“Don’t forget you can always ask for help, even if it is just somebody to talk to,” the voice said. “In the end, all you need to do is love yourself and be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to grow.”
The video was part of dozens of articles BuzzFeed created for Mental Health Week, which made me curious. Mental Illness Awareness Week, which was established by Congress in 1990, is in October. Mental Health Awareness Month is in May. As far as I know, there is not a Mental Health Week in December.
But it shouldn’t matter if there is a designated week — I hope no one follows that rule. Mental health is a subject everyone should be aware of every day. And the message in the video holds true: We can always ask for help.
We often think about staying healthy through exercising and eating right, but sometimes mental health gets pushed to the back of our minds. I can’t speak for everyone, but in North Dakota and Minnesota cultures, we tend to believe we need to work hard; showing emotion or a break in mental health is a sign of weakness, and it’s better to deal with problems ourselves rather than bother others.
But just like the body, your mind and emotions need attention and sometimes help from others.
Mental health can seem like a distant problem that is easy to discuss in medical terms. But the confusion and pain for someone who is affected or thinks he or she may be affected by a mental illness can be crippling, and it’s hard to understand what that person is experiencing.
But a large part of that pain is thinking others won’t understand someone with a mental illness. That person may feel something is wrong with him, but may feel it is his fault.
Then add the thought of the stigma. What would family members or friends think? Would people think that person is crazy? Does he just want attention? Can’t he just control his thoughts? Those concerns are very real.
One in three people report or seek help for mental health, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. That means the other two people won’t seek help when they feel alone or think they are worthless. Detrimental thoughts will play over and over in their heads. Their thoughts will torment them. And they likely won’t seek help for a variety of reasons.
But sometimes all they need to know is someone is there for them, that one person is not going to judge them or tell them to “just get better.” Sometimes all a person needs is someone is there to ask if he or she is OK. That one question could be the tipping point for a person who possibly has a mental illness realizing they are not alone.
No matter what anyone says, we all need help sometimes. If something feels off or different, you should talk to someone. It may be hard and scary to reach out, but the first step is finding someone you can trust to talk about it, even if it is just a friend. There are probably millions of questions, but you can’t find the answers if you don’t ask. And there is always someone there who wants to help you get better.
I know it’s been said a thousand times, but it is not said enough. There is always hope, and there is always someone who cares.