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Next month, December 2021, will mark two years since I started The Mental Health Update.
That's hard to believe.
What started as a daily email newsletter is now a twice-a-week newsletter and a website that gets about 25,000 visitors a month.
Today, there are 1,999 individuals who subscribe to The Mental Health Update email newsletter, and I just had my first 1,000+ visitor day on my website yesterday.
Why am I sharing this?
Because it's clear that this content is meeting a need, and it's time to share something I've been thinking about for a long time:
My core values when it comes to mental health and the work I do with The Mental Health Update.
I believe core values are behind everything that we do as humans.
And I've learned that clearly defining my values makes my decisions easier because I no longer have to wonder if something is right or wrong for me.
So, this is what I believe, although it's a work in progress.
After you read this, I'd love to know if any of these values resonated with you.
I suspect they will.
Mental Health Values (Core Values of The Mental Health Update)
Mental Health Value 1 - Truth / Honesty (Self-Truth + Collective Truth)
Truth is at the heart of it all for me.
I'm a truth-teller, through and through.
I can't help it--it's who I am.
My parents told me that I was even this way as a little kid.
I've always had a strong sense of right vs. wrong, and, embarrassingly, I was quite vocal about this when I was young.
Allegedly, when I was a little boy, I walked up to a complete stranger in his own yard and told him that he should stop smoking because it was bad for him.
While that horrifies me today, it speaks to something that's core to who I am.
I believe that the pursuit of truth, both individual and collective, is the highest aspiration I can have.
Because searching for truth is based on honesty, and honesty is central to all healthy relationships.
If two people don't want to uncover what's truly going on together, I've found that the relationship is not likely to become a strong one.
Finally, I believe that every person has a right to share their own truth and search to uncover more and more of that truth.
Each person knows their life best, and they should be allowed to improve their mental health, share their mental health stories, and work with others who are also pursuing healthier lives in good faith.
Mental Health Value 2 - Accessibility + Relatability + Applicability (Meeting People Where They Are)
I create content with accessibility in mind.
I choose my words with relatability in mind.
I craft strategies and next steps with applicability in mind.
I've had too many bad experiences as both a client/patient and a provider in the mental health system to know that this doesn't always happen.
I've met too many mental health professionals who talk at their clients rather than being with them and learning from them.
Mental health information is worthless if it doesn't meet you where you are, in your particular situation, at your current juncture in life.
You know your life best, and you know what you're experiencing.
I've never enjoyed mental health content that is full of jargon or all doom and gloom.
Creating and sharing accessible mental health content, in my mind, is the best way to enter a door into another person's life.
It's the best way to get permission to continue the conversation.
Mental Health Value 3 - Meaning-Making
I rarely see "Meaning" on a list of core values, but it's central to what I do.
Since I was little, I've always asked questions. I've always been intensely curious.
I realized a few years ago why I do this, why I walk around town and instinctively wonder in my mind or aloud at what I see.
It's how I make sense of the world.
It's how I create meaning.
My perception is not always great or helpful, but I trust my experience. I trust what I see, hear, and learn.
Meaning is the backdrop of my life, but it's also the lifeblood.
The more I read, the less I understand, but I'm always fascinated by uncovering and integrating new meaning into my life.
To help someone improve their life, whether it's setting a goal or practicing a new skill, you need to help them understand the motivation behind what they are doing.
Reading textbooks might be boring until you realize you can take in and understand hundreds of pages of information when you're doing it to save a family member's life.
It's all about the "why."
Mental Health Value 4 - It Can Always Be Better (Nothing Endures But Change)
This last value is one that sometimes rubs people the wrong way.
If I'm being honest, it sometimes rubs me the wrong way.
I don't know where I got it, but I have an undying belief that things can always be better.
Maybe it's why I ended up as an entrepreneur because I can't help looking at the world and thinking of ways it can be improved.
One of my favorite quotations is from Heraclitus:
"Nothing endures but change."
If you think about it, it's absolutely true.
The world is always changing.
Relationships are always changing as well, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in cataclysmic shifts.
I believe that rather than burying my head in the sand and hoping that everything will always be the way it is right now, I need to figure out how I can be mindful, live in the moment, and adapt to whatever comes my way.
That doesn't mean I need to be a passive observer of my own life. It just means that I can make a lot more progress if I acknowledge reality and work with it rather than deny reality and work against it.
It is what it is.
To that end, I will continue the work of The Mental Health Update for as long as I am able.
I will continue to write because I love to do so--but also because I want to share what I've learned. I don't want anyone else to feel the way I did when I was struggling and couldn't find any answers to my mental health questions.
And I will continue to be curious about my values.
The values in this list are the ones, I believe, that form the strong foundation of my mission to make mental health meaningful and accessible.
And they are the ones that will help to launch the soaring vision statement I'm working on, to provide the most relatable mental health content in the world.
What Are Your Core Values?
Now it's your turn.
What are your values?
Are they similar to my mental health values?
Is there a value from the above list that you absolutely love? That you absolutely despise?
I hope you'll take 10-15 minutes this week to write down what you believe, what you know to be at the core of your being.
It's well worth the time invested because it will help you better understand yourself and, as a result, make better decisions.
We are all just human beings trying to live our lives in the best ways we know how.
Caring for our mental health is central to that aim.
And knowing your values is at the heart of it all.