Speaking Mental Health
Forward Times Mental Health Advisors
Many of us would like to think we’re brave enough, strong enough, wise enough to rise up against any challenge or foe that would attempt to overcome us. The truth is, however, many of us live by the motto “fake it til’ you make it” and instead of boldly confronting those people and things that oppose us, we run from them, avoid them at all costs, or attempt to dodge them when they come our way. Why does our gusto seem to dissipate like gas during trying times? I believe it all comes down to one word, support.
When people feel supported, very rarely are they unable to accomplish what they set out to do. Whether great or small, with support, people have been able to accomplish some amazing things and achieve some major feats. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. With little-to-no support, people either choose not to step outside of their comfortable space despite the need for change or fail when attempting to address things on their own. Whether in times of grief or happiness, support is what people are looking for; it reminds them that they’re not left to experience feelings or the uncertain outcomes of situations alone. Equally as debilitating as the fear of failure is the fear of facing the unknown alone, even if the unknown is beneficial.
One of the most effective yet undervalued and underused supports available to people is mental health services. Because of stigma and a lack of education, when many people hear the phrase “mental health”, they immediately think deficit, weakness, loss. When society refuses to take an active stance on improving the focus on mental health and the benefits associated with improving our mental health, then society reinforces the idea that mental health supports, and services are unimportant and unnecessary. In reality, during a time such as this, that is, a pandemic, racial and political tension, high unemployment rates, and so many other challenges, mental health support is vital. It is important that we all recognize the value in having mental health supports and support systems at our disposal, especially those who are disadvantaged and have been notoriously underserved, like the Black community.
What does mental health support look like? It looks like accessing therapy or counseling services, to be provided by licensed and trained professionals who can effectively educate and assist people in correcting faulty thinking patterns and operating from a place of hope. Mental health support also looks like participating in therapy groups or support groups, that are designed to help people address specific issues or assist people in effectively navigating through their circumstances. When it comes to supporting a healthy mentality, assistance can come from regular conversations with trusted individuals or through activities designed to encourage, empower, and enlighten the individual. Whether surrounded by peers or addressing matters solo, with a keen sense of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-confidence, which are all made stronger when one’s mental health is improved. Yes, when one values their own mental health, one can feel shored up and supported, even when they must stand alone.
Michael Dangerfield, LPC, NCC