Raise Awareness and Reduce the Stigma
While 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness over the course of their lifetimes, everyone will face challenges that can and will affect their mental health. Licensed professional counselors play a critical role in providing care and guidance for those who are struggling with mental health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health of people of all ages. Now, more than ever, it is critical to reduce the stigma around mental health struggles, because that stigma often prevents individuals from seeking help. Perceived, or internalized, stigmas can cause feelings of shame, lead to isolation, and a distorted self-image. The first steps to reducing stigmas surrounding mental health is education; and the ongoing initiatives for progressing your own mental health is education, acceptance, treatment and mindset transformation.
Let’s explore a few basics.
Resilience and Radical Acceptance:
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant stresses– such as family/relationship problems, health concerns, or workplace/financial stressors. Resilience is not only “bouncing back” from difficult situations, but profound personal growth. Although you may not have control over certain experiences or outside factors, there are aspects you can control, modify and improve, and that is the role of resilience. Resilience doesn’t prevent you from experiencing adverse events in your life, but improves your ability to control your reaction to said event, and impact (to some extent) on your life and mental health.
Like building a muscle, increasing your resilience takes time and intentionality, Focusing on four core components–connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning— can help do this. Connection is best supported when we prioritize relationships that are with trustworthy and compassionate individuals. Wellness is everything from taking care of your body [Ensuring proper nutrition, ample sleep, hydration and regular exercise],practicing mindfulness [Mindful journaling, yoga, spiritual practices such as prayer or meditation], and avoiding negative outlets [Alcohol, drugs or other substances].
Radical acceptance is a distress tolerance skill that is designed to keep pain from turning into suffering. It is NOT approval, but rather completely and wholly accepting with our mind, body and spirit that we cannot currently change the present facts, even if we do not like them, and accepting the uncertainty that it could never change. By choosing to radically accept the things that are out of our control, we prevent ourselves from becoming stuck in unhappiness, bitterness, anger and sadness and we can stop suffering. Radical acceptance plays a large role in reducing the stigma around mental illness, as this skill can lessen shame, aversion or embarrassment that is, sadly and unduly, associated with mental health.
These are obviously small drops in a large bucket–but continuing education about mental health is our first step in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health so that those that need help, can get help.
You should never feel you or a loved one must face a mental health challenge alone. Reach out to the free UofU Crisisline or Warm Line.
Crisis Line: 801.587.3000
Warm Line: 801.587.1055