I was first interested in the mental health field after taking my first psychology class in high school. I had come from a family with a background of divorce and alcoholism and wanted to learn more about the origin of these life challenges. After several years of schooling and four years working with others and their life challenges, mental health has become much more complex and subjective than I had imagined. Since my first psychology class, mental illness diagnoses are becoming more recognized, publicized, and noted for their lack of transparency and predictability in public culture, specifically in regard to events of suicide.
October 7th-13th is mental health awareness week and to me, that not only means raising awareness about mental health in general, but also encouraging individuals to be more aware of their own mental health status. Whether it be fairly stable, healthy, suppressed, actively working on it, insightful, full of denial, masked, or completely unknown, we should all be more aware of our emotional states and the variables in which we are impacted by. Self-awareness is a vital component to growth and rehabilitation in any setting. In addition, the desire and ability to ask for help and initiate use of appropriate resources are important characteristics to bring awareness to. We all may have not been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, but we all have mental health.
I want to normalize mental health and bring awareness to all individuals by considering a spectrum of mental health; instead of categorizing people into those who are mentally ill or unstable with a diagnosis and those that are not. Being aware of my own family history of alcoholism and divorce, my tolerance levels for stress, and various triggers have helped me recognize my own behavioral patterns and the need for some helpful coping skills and self-care. Normalizing life challenges and raising awareness will hopefully extinguish the stigma behind mental illness.
-Megan (Outpatient Therapist in Olmsted County)