There isn’t a day I scroll through social media when I don’t stumble across a post about mental health. For the most part this makes me happy. More awareness means more understanding for those of us who spend our lives hiding the brunt of our symptoms from the rest of the world due to fear of being chastised, judged and belittled.
For the most part this is great. More people sharing their struggles means others will feel less alone. And we should carry on talking, because it is brave and necessary. However, more awareness also means more stories about ignorance, and with this comes with posts telling mentally healthy people off for engaging in ‘toxic’ behaviour. These posts have their positives. Telling the world that most mentally ill people don’t like being told that they don’t ‘look sick’ could help people think twice about what they say to us. Some comments are more helpful than others, and some comments do more harm than good.
That being said, engaging too far into this “us vs them” mentality can also have its dangers. For the most part, the things our friends and family say to us come from a place of love. They don’t mean to hurt us. They’re just trying to get through their own lives as best as they can and help us in the best way they know how. Sure, they can screw up sometimes, but so can we. That’s part of being human.
Recent research found that youth who spend 3+ hours a day on social media were twice as likely to experience mental health problems than adolescents who did not use social media. We must work with the private sector to encourage healthier online habits. https://t.co/jPtM2II11W
— Henrietta H. Fore (@unicefchief) November 15, 2019
Even if our loved ones don’t have a recognised mental health problem like we do, that doesn’t mean that they can’t have their own bad days too. The more we think they can’t possibly be struggling, because we have it harder, the higher those walls will go up and the more isolated we will feel from everyone around us. If we can accept that everyone has problems that are adjusted to how our lives are, the more we can view mental health as a journey that everyone is on.
Lighten the mood
If someone does something that hurts you, the most important thing to do is speak to them honestly. Maybe they thought they were helping. Maybe they genuinely were trying to lighten the mood. Or maybe they just didn’t know you have a particular mental illness and so didn’t feel the need to read up on it because it’s never crossed their path before. If you speak up and educate them, they have more of a chance to change than they do if you share a passive aggressive meme.
Everyone has mental health just as everyone has physical health and if we work together instead of section the ill from the healthy, we can become healthier as a community.