The Importance of Role Models For Mental Health (And How to Find One)

Jordan Brown

Children are encouraged to have good role models, but the world forgets that adults need them too.

A role model is a guide, an example to follow and to aspire to be.

Selecting a good role model can save you tons of pain, or it can put you down a difficult road.

And role models set the tone for your mental health as well.

But how do you go about choosing them?

First, you identify who is a role model for you.

Mental Health Role Models

A mental health role model, for me, is someone who owns their emotions. It's a person who acknowledges the space they take up in the world and aims to bring clear air to whatever space they're in.

A mental health role model doesn't need to be someone who dedicates their time to mental health advocacy.

It's more about their process than anything else, the way in which they carry themselves as they move about the world.

Mental health role models do the following:

  1. Express emotions freely but also with regard for the emotions of others
  2. Think deeply and live intentionally
  3. Create space for others to grow and flourish
  4. Enjoy improving their immediate environments because they know that their is a ripple effect that first occurs at the local-community level--and then extends to nearby communities

How Do You Find a Mental Health Role Model?

To find a mental health role model, you first need to realize what's important to you.

What makes you feel good? What makes you shine in a positive, life-enhancing way?

Start with the end in mind. Get a clear image of what your ideal, healthy person looks like, sounds like, and acts like. Once you have a crystal-clear idea, work backwards.

Where does that kind of person hang out? What roads do they traverse?

Even if you can't see the exact paths they took to get where they are, you're starting to do something important. You're starting to become curious--and that's a very, very good thing. Curiosity opens up the world. It gives you space. Just like a role model.

Find the people who give you fresh air to breathe.

They may not always be where you expect to find them. But they're out there.

In fact, you may be one of them. Who looks up to you? Who sees your emotions and actions as a guide?

And remember, there is no one particular way of being that is ideal. It all depends on the context.  Your personal context.

Figure out what you need, figure out where you'd like to go, and then look ahead to that distant spot on the horizon.

There's likely someone already out there.

Reach out and reel in the ones who inspire you.