Happy Mental Health Awareness Week!!!! Hmmm. Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental Health Awareness. What constitutes mental health awareness? I mean, if the goal of this week is raise mental health awareness, we need to have an idea of what it is we are trying to achieve, right? What is it that we want them to know and who is them? Are we trying to educate ourselves more? Is the general public the target? How do we go about getting this important information to the people we want it to go to? That’s a whole lot to think about when we are trying to do our part as advocates by participating in this week long event.
As I thought about all those things, I realized that there are so many ways to interpret the goals of this week and even more ways to accomplish them. Lets take the topic of stigma. I recently wrote a post based on a survey I took to see if the stigma for bipolar disorder is based more on an incorrect definition or based on incorrect preconceived notion that having bipolar disorder makes us unable to perform daily functions or go about our lives in a reasonably normal fashion. Was the stigma based on the public believing we can’t handle daily life and therefore should be seen as liabilities? Why did I think this was important? Well, if I am trying to reduce the stigma of bipolar disorder, I want to know exactly what it is that the public is thinking so I know what information they need to receive. The surveys showed that people know what bipolar disorder is, but their misconceptions do lie in their view of our ability to handle daily life and things such as work and friendships. After discovering that, I realized that I want to show more success stories when trying to combat stigma. I want to show the public as many examples as I can that people who have bipolar disorder can hold jobs and we can have friendships and relationships. I want them to know that we can be stable. We may have times when we falter, but if we follow our doctors orders, and live a certain lifestyle, we can be completely capable of having a life just like any other individual.
That is just one example of what we need to think about as we are spreading the word and announcing that it is Mental Health Awareness Week. I think its excellent to spread the word that this is the week that has been dedicated to mental health awareness, but I also think that during this week, we all need to pull together and do our part in providing information about mental health. I know that each and every person that is reading this has a different background, a different perspective, a different lifestyle, and different experiences from their own journey through the mental health system. We have all encountered a variety of different people and different circumstances, some good and some bad. That is why, I’m asking that today, we all think about how mental health and/or mental illness has affected our lives, both positive things and negative experiences. When deciding to share with someone that it is Mental Health Awareness Week, think of those experiences and try to share something that will help confirm the positive experiences you have had or something that can prove those negative experiences are just stigmas or misconceptions. Just one fact is all it takes to initiate awareness.
Today, lets think about one thing we each can do as individuals to raise awareness in our individuals circles. What can each of us do to help conquer those negative experiences and make sure that the correct information is getting out there? For every link we send regarding Mental Health Awareness Week, or every post we write up, phone call we make, or message we text, lets add just one thing based on our own individual experiences and lets all start using our voices as voices!!!!!
Happy Mental Health Awareness Week!!!!!!!