The month of May is marked on the calendar as Mental Health Month. Take this time to raise awareness about mental or behavioral health issues, as well as helping to reduce the stigma many people experience. The best way to do this is by talking about it. Let’s begin.
It’s important to know that contemporary views of mental health illnesses may not completely align with some indigenous traditional values. In some native languages, words like “depressed” and “anxious” do not exist. Rather, phrases such as “ghost sickness” or “heartbreak syndrome” are used instead. Most cultures embrace ideas of interconnectedness balancing the mind, body and spirit, maintaining that a person’s well-being depends heavily on cultural identity, family and a connection to the past.
Many who meet the criteria for depression, anxiety or other mental health issues find help through spiritual and/or traditional healers who have been trained in treating mental health conditions. Others may require medication in addition to traditional methods and medicine. It’s important to discuss your plan with someone qualified to determine what is safe.
Seeking professional care is an important step towards healing. There are some things you can also do to help feel better in the meantime. Some include:
- Talk about your feelings: Expressing emotions verbally can be a great way to cope with thoughts you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. Having someone listen can help you feel supported and less alone.
- Stay active: Moving your body can help you concentrate, sleep and overall feel better. Going for a daily walk with friends or family can do wonders for the mind.
- Take a breather: Whether it’s a five minute break from your daily chores, a lunch break at work, or a spontaneous weekend trip: give yourself some “me time.” Just a few minutes can be enough to de-stress you.
- Do something you’re good at: Enjoying yourself can help with stress. It could be quillwork, beadwork, painting, dancing or anything in between. Whatever activity you enjoy benefits and boosts your self-esteem.
- Care for others: Caring for other people — like your friends, family or elders — keeps up relationships with those close to you and can bring you even closer together.
Mental health plays an incredibly important part to your overall health and well-being. It’s valuable to remember that mental illnesses are common and treatable. Knowing when to turn to friends, family, elders or professional healthcare providers when you are struggling can help improve your mind.
Mental Health Month encourages those to share their struggles and end the stigma. Don’t be afraid to speak up, speak out and ask for help.
Keep updated this week as we provide a mental health quiz, video series, journal and more!