Being Human in Today’s World is Wild
The Critical Importance of Mental Health Awareness Right Now
I’ve been wanting to write something to share for some time but have been stuck. My mind races. There is so much to say, but expressing feels limiting at times. My anxiety is often consuming and overthinking takes over. Intrusive thoughts become distractions without me even realizing it. In any such moments,, intrusive thoughts always feel very real and necessary. As a result, I often feel like I’m accomplishing nothing. This isn’t new. In so many ways, this feels like the story of my life.
We’re only human.
Being human in this world is incredibly tough. There is just too much happening to mention all of the complicated reasons why. Our existence is incredibly complex. We know so little about our reality, and yet so many of us act as if we know everything, especially about others.
The truth is that we have no idea where others have been, where they are, or where they are going. Many of us become more concerned with what everyone else is doing (or not doing) then what we are doing ourselves. We talk about other people like their nothing more than a tabloid magazine from a grocery store that can be tossed in the trash when we get bored. We intentionally and often unintentionally fuel stigmas that cause more harm than we’ll ever really know.
The state of stigma.
Unfortunately, the reality is that stigma is still alive and well. We’re judging people based on things we know little to nothing about. More importantly, we’re judging ourselves for our own issues that we know the most about.
I often wonder why we are so cruel to ourselves, and why we keep forgetting that we’re human. We have all been conditioned by our own society to not look at ourselves with compassionate eyes. The mirror tends to be where our thoughts use the sharpest knives, comparing ourselves to just ideas of what we think others are.
So many of us struggle in silence. Most are still too afraid to admit it. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be. We all need to change the way we look at mental health. We need to realize that our mental health literally impacts every single aspect of all of our lives. Our mental and emotional well-being is just as important as our physical well-being.
Mental health in our world.
Our entire planet is in global mental health crisis. This has been going on for a very long time. The obvious symptom of this global crisis is our society’s constant prioritization of money and power over humanity. We have lost touch with ourselves as human beings. As a whole, we have forgotten how to truly feel, express, and empathize. We’ve been too busy dividing and conquering for the benefit of only a few.
Mental health in the U.S.
The state of mental health here in the U.S. remains a low priority even though in recent years we have been telling ourselves it’s not.
The reality is that a lot of improvement is needed. Mental health professionals need to be paid more and given more respect. Based on today’s cost of living, many aren’t even making livable wages (or barely). We need to get insurance companies to provide better coverage for mental healthcare (and all healthcare in general). It needs to be more widely accessible. We need a lot more support groups and safe spaces, especially for the LGBTQ+ community. Advocacy needs to be on the mind of every one of us. We need more participation, especially from men. We also need to ensure first responders everywhere are properly trained on handling a mental health emergency. The recent start of 988 as a nationwide mental health emergency number is a huge step forward, but how well is the number being promoted in local communities? Do people know the difference between 911 and 988?
I sometimes get frustrated with our society’s approach to suicide prevention. Many of us act as if we just share a phone number more than suicide will somehow magically stop. I often feel like we live in a burning building and people are only concerned about preventing people from leaving the burning building, instead of actually working to put the fire out. While the phone number is important (please keep sharing 988 - it is extremely helpful to many and can be for you one day), far too many people fail to realize that suicide prevention is also livable wages, access to affordable physical and mental healthcare, access to education/opportunity, accessibility, public transit, social equity and equality, affordable housing and rent, access to a sufficient amount of food, and so many other things that involves the everyday life of every single human being. The goal should be to improve the quality of life for all of humanity (not just for some) so that no one ever gets to that point where they want to leave.
Speaking up and taking action.
I believe that one simple way that we can all help to start improving mental health is to have more conversations about it and to have more conversations about just being human. Reminding ourselves and others that we are human beings can actually do a lot of good. The power of storytelling is immeasurable. Relatability is medicine, and vulnerability opens doors for others to be ok with feeling the same way. Vulnerability is validation of our humanity.
The topic of mental health is literally endless and so is its impact on our lives. I could literally go on forever talking about it. I think it’s also becoming incredibly important for all of us right now to talk about it. In fact, I think it has become critical. And if you can, take action and become an advocate. That is what is really needed right now.
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