Mental Health Month, which occurs every May, is a time where mental health advocates spread awareness and rally up support for those who battle with a wide array of mental illnesses, often in silence. This is a crucial time to place “taboo” struggles in the public spotlight, and shed light upon mental health concerns. However, as we move into June, I’d like to reflect on what mental health awareness truly means. The concept of mental health should not be preserved for those with a mental illness. Mental health is a topic of concern for every person.
It is often minconstrued that only those diagnosed with mental illnesses should actively prioritize their mental health. Those who struggle with these illnesses seemingly have more to deal with, and this may be true in many case scenarios. However, pre-existing conditions and diagnosed illnesses are not the only contributing factors to assessing someone’s mental health. There are numerous reasons someone’s mental health may decline.
Have you ever heard of Seasonal Depression or Situational Anxiety? How about Emotional Burnout? These diagnoses do not require you to have been previously diagnosed with chronic depression, Bipolar Disorder, or another mental illness. These diagnoses, like so many perplexing diagnoses, are often sudden, situational, and go unnoticed. It happens to people who formerly had “pristine” emotional and mental health. When the pandemic happened, more people were reporting feelings of burnout. Students who were the perfect picture of health in high school identified extreme bouts of anxiety and depression due to new pressures and isolation.
I cannot stress this enough: your environment deeply influences your mental health. You don’t have to have a family history of mental illness or to have experienced childhood trauma for you to struggle with your mental health.
You never know what could happen tomorrow or even an hour from now. One minute you are on top of the world, working at your new job, feeling the rush of adrenaline because you are moving up in life. The next second, you are falling apart, the walls are closing in, you are being buried by piles of paperwork and assignments… It's just too much.
If you do one thing for yourself today, I am begging you- prioritize the state of your emotional and mental wellbeing. Light a candle for yourself, buy yourself a planner, and set realistic goals for your day. Clean your workspace, do a yoga flow, log off from social media- hell, switch your phone off! Say no to doing that last minute, out of the blue favor for that person who is only your friend when they need something. Tell your partner you need alone time to read a book and chill in a bath. You are important and worthy of unconditional self love. Don’t wait to fall into a dark place before prioritizing your mental health. It’s called preventative care: be proactive and not reactive. You’ll thank me later.
Written by: Dakota Geduld