Making Mental Health Matter
A long-standing goal for Mental Health America is to reduce stigma around mental health diagnosis and conversations. This battle sometimes feels uphill, but young people today are in many ways more comfortable and aware in discussing these issues. There are other signs of progress with world famous athletes and actors being open about their mental health. And there is much we can do in small ways to normalize mental health talk.
One small example involves how we talk to our medical team. Let's not wait for our physicians to ask us about our mental health and wellness even if we feel balanced and well. Reporting that you are less irritable because you are getting more sleep is a win for everyone, your physician included. Reporting, without being asked, that you are feeling afraid to talk about your health because you have gained twenty pounds, or have a strange mole, or a family member with cancer, and asking if that falls in the range of typical, helps you work towards better health. Reporting that you feel down most days and asking if that is typical for your situation normalizes the discussion and offers an opportunity for your doctor to help you. Reporting your psychological health and wellbeing opens the door for you and your physician to address not just your mental health, but her/his next patient as well. Depending on the situation, the physician may be able to address any issues within the office visit, refer you as needed, set-up an extra appointment, document your information to track for later visit comparisons, or celebrate a success with you. Mental health is physical and physical health is psychological as well. Talking about it this simple, direct way is just one small thing we can do to shift the conversation from stigma to success.