Mental health. It’s something I’ve talked about on this blog on multiple occasions. It’s also a topic that is very near and dear to my heart.
In the last week we lost two icons – Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain – to suicide. Should it take celebrity deaths to get a conversation started about mental health? No. But am I thankful it does? Absolutely. The most infuriating part, though, is that with each passing day, the thought gets pushed further and further into the back of the heads of many people. Other things become more important. And mental health? Suddenly it’s on the back burner again.
The understanding and acceptance of mental health issues is important beyond measure. Why do we hear when those around us have cancer, lupus, or transplants? Why do we hear of heart disease, neurological disorders, or disabilities? But mental health – suddenly the conversation stops. Society has taught us that it isn’t acceptable to talk about the chemicals and the hormones our minds produce and how they’re controlled. Would we judge someone with the above diseases or disorders? No. But we judge those with mental illness, sometimes without even knowing it. Those times you told someone with depression to “just try to be happy” or those times you told someone with anxiety to “get over it” – you’re not helping. Often times, you’re creating a bigger problem.
Mental health issues do not discriminate. You can have it all – money, fame, success – none of it matters when you’re sick or suffering. Those living the “perfect life” could actually be living a life much different than that. Having everything isn’t everything. Having everything is obsolete when you’re sick. Nobody deserves to suffer. Everybody deserves help.
You do not know another’s pain or the burden they carry. This is the honest to God truth. Should celebrity deaths make us advocate for mental health and suicide prevention? Absolutely. But what about those in the world around you – those close to you – that may need help? Have you checked on your friends? Your family? Your coworkers? It can be as simple as a hello, or even asking someone how they are doing. Reaching out a helping hand. Including them in your daily life. In the deepest depths of darkness, those who need help don’t often realize it until those close to them speak up. You have the power to be the change.
Until the stigma is removed from mental illness and our society begins to accept it, those suffering with mental health issues will continue to hide. Until you respond with kindness, love, and compassion, people with mental health issues will continue to bottle everything up. Start the conversation. Spread kindness. Radiate love.
It won’t happen overnight, but it’s a start.
To anyone reading this – you are noticed. The world would not be the same without you in it.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255