October 10th is recognized as World Mental Health Day from the World Federation for Mental Health. This year, the theme focuses on young people (ages 14-28) and mental health in a changing world. As the Chief Wellness Officer at Bridge 3, I feel it’s important to consider millennial wellness and create some awareness around mental health today.
We live in a world where 20% of the population have a shared experience of a mental health diagnosis, yet there is still so much stigma, shame, and silence. On this World Mental Health Day, I encourage you to do something different. Connect with those around you, learn how you can be a part of the solution, and find strength in your story.
A Focus on Millennial Wellness & Mental Health
With millennials making up the largest generation in the work force, this theme presents an opportunity for organizations.
- An opportunity to support team members as they navigate mental illness with their family members.
- An opportunity to support team members experiencing mental illness.
- An opportunity to support a community and the next generation of employees.
- An opportunity to actively engage in workplace best practices that promote positive mental health.
According to NAMI, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (43.8 million) experience mental illness in a given year, and only 41% of adults with a mental health diagnosis received any form of mental health services.
Let’s work together to help close this gap. Here are some ways to start.
1. Acknowledging that help is needed can be a scary first step.
There. I said it. At the core of getting help is seeking as change. And since most human beings tend to be a little resistant to change, getting help may be tip-toeing into unknown waters. Here is what I ask of you- commit to the process. Maybe you are walking this journey with someone else. Be there in the hard moments; be there in the moments where you can celebrate. Committing to the process in no way means that it’s easy. In these moments, lean in. These are the moments where we need to support each other fiercely.
2. Reflect on where the gap comes from.
What makes it hard to connect to mental health resources? Is it access to mental health care? Cultural, religious, and/or societal expectations? A lack of awareness of signs and symptoms of mental illness? It’s not just about recognizing the gap, I encourage you to do something about it. Learn about resources. Engage with your community. Push past status quo. Your willingness to commit to shortening the gap to promote help seeking- to learn about the experiences of others and to walk this journey with them- is a commitment to empathy in its truest form.
3. Reaching out for help is one of the bravest things someone could ever do.
Being a part of this process with someone is a privileged and sacred space. To allow someone the space to hear their story is one of the purest acts of offering hope. In these moments, listen. Very rarely do our words erase someone else’s problems or stressors. Remember this – bravery is contagious. Your willingness to hold space for someone else is an act of bravery in and of itself and can create a ripple effect of help seeking for those around you.
4. Know your boundaries.
As it relates to mental health, boundaries can come from many different places and can vary from individual to individual and relationship to relationship. There may need to be a stopping point to what conversations and support can look like, and that’s okay. Sometimes our roles limit the conversations we can have or sometimes boundaries need to be utilized as a form of self-care. Respect these boundaries and know where to turn for assistance. Knowing your resources is just as important as holding space.
While the statistics surrounding mental health, stigma, and barriers to resource utilization may be overwhelming, in a way, I am encouraged. In a world where it’s all too common to feel all alone, we are actually far more connected than we think.
On this World Mental Health Day, how will you connect with others? Comment below!