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Today is May 1st, the start of Mental Health Awareness Month. It's a cause for celebration and awareness-raising action.
But, for the last few years, as I've become more of an advocate in online spaces, I've had mixed feelings about this month.
Of course, I'm ecstatic that the world pays more attention to mental health issues during May.
But I'm also saddened by the fact that the conversations dissipate as the month goes on. Before you know it, the conversations are gone, and the world is on to something else.
Mental health is more than a month. Let's take a look at all that it is.
Mental Health Is Daily Activity
Every day, as you go about your day, your mental health is right there with you. It never leaves your side.
Mental health is your operating system. When you're sad or dejected, your day is affected. When you're joyful and secure, the color of your day is brighter. It's just how it is.
Mental health is not only mental illness. Mental illness is a lack of mental health, but it exists on a spectrum, just like anything else in life.
When you think of "mental health issues," what comes to mind?
Is it good or bad? Usually, it's bad. That's how most people would respond to the words "mental health issues." But mental health issues are not inherently good or bad. They just are. It's all about how you look at it.
And I think one of the great aims of Mental Health Awareness Month should be to get people looking at mental health issues through an unclouded lens.
Mental Health Is Perception
Whether you like to think of it this way or not, mental health is about perception. You can look at the world and only see hurt and pain and frustration, or you can look at the world and see hope and joy and love.
I'm not asking you to put on rose-colored glasses. I'm asking you to consider the way that you look at the world. However you look at it, that worldview is part of your mental health, and it's likely been baked into your daily living for a while now. Wherever it came from, be it your family environment growing up or a traumatic experience later in life, your perception influences how you live. Your perception is part of your mental health.
Consider how you perceive the world.
And now consider if that perception is serving you. Is it setting you up for success? Is it making you a likeable person? Is it a perception that's even your own? Or is it one you've been told you need to have? The key is to figure this out for yourself and eventually determine what helps you live the most fulfilling life possible. For YOU.
Mental Health Awareness Month Is So Much More Than a Month
I'll close today's issue with a challenge.
Today, I'd like you to think about mental health in a new way. I'd like you to explore what mental health could be and consider ideas you may not have considered before.
Ask someone about their perception of mental heath. Does it match your own? Find a story online about a mental health issue with which you have no experience. Does it make you scratch your head?
That's a good thing.
Because mental health is also about broadening your perspective. It's about learning and growing. No one is stagnant. No one is fixed in place forever.
Mental health is a living and changing thing.
And you're living and changing right along with it.
Let's make this Mental Health Awareness Month a great one.