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AlisonBrill Posted by Alison T. Brill, MPH, Community Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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May is Mental Health Month, and today is Mental Health Blog Party Day. You might be wondering how mental health could be a party. Well, positive mental health is certainly something to celebrate! Mental health affects all of us in everything we do. Yet few people actually talk about it. That’s about to change. One reason people don’t discuss mental health or seek the help they need is because of the shame and societal discrimination attached to mental health problems. How can something that all of us experience be regarded as socially unacceptable?

Another reason mental health rarely comes up in conversation involves language that we use to describe the issues. Words matter. Consider the words “crazy” or “insane,” which have a long history of misuse. They contribute to a culture that discriminates against people with mental health issues. These words in particular carry harmful meaning and perpetuate the shame of experiencing mental health difficulties. They are offensive to people living with mental health issues and those who have loved ones experiencing and/or accessing mental health care. It’s time that we have a mental health positive culture. You can help by being aware of the language you use. Instead of using the words above, think about what you truly mean to express, then use a different word or phrase instead such as, “That’s ridiculous!” or “Unbelievable!”

We all have or will experience positive and negative mental health responses to abnormal events, like trauma, violence and natural disasters. They’re part of life. When life gets overwhelming, we as humans must try to cope. Some of us choose different coping skills than others.

Some positive coping skills include: 

  • Socializing with friends
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Volunteering
  • Physical activity, including walking 
  • Listening to music
  • Spiritual or religious practices
  • Deep breathing, yoga, and/or meditation
  • Talking with a professional (i.e., counselor, therapist, doctor, faith leader)

Some negative coping skills include:

  • Using alcohol and other drugs
  • Smoking
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Sleeping too much
  • Angry and violent behavior
  • Isolating oneself from others
  • Overworking

We can adopt new, more positive, coping skills at any age. If you would like to learn more positive coping skills, contact a mental health provider near you at http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/

I invite you to join DPH in spreading the importance of good mental health and self-care. Practice self-care by getting active and breathing deeply, catching up with an old friend, and turning the Mental Health Blogging Party into a dance party. Post your own blog about why mental health and wellness is important to you. Tell your story. Share your experience. Celebrate positive Mental Health Month year-round.   

How to support a friend with mental health concerns: (Includes links to multicultural campaigns)http://www.whatadifference.samhsa.gov/index.html

For mental health information, news and resources, visit: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

 

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