It’s easy to say mental health is important when someone on stage is telling about their
story with depression, or when you see a mom sitting in the front row of a funeral for her
son who committed suicide. I would think all of us would say that yes, mental health is
serious and important. But the sad truth is, we choose when it’s important. We don’t find
it important when someone is being gossiped about during lunch, or laughed at because
of the same sweatshirt they wear. We can say whatever we want about mental health, but
we don’t actually consider others mental health when we go through our everyday life.
Notice I’m saying “we” not “you”. As someone with two mental illnesses myself, I am
guilty of this just as much as you are. I’m writing about things I do. I’m not proud of it
and I hope you aren’t either. Change starts with awareness. Now that we’re aware, we’ll
watch what we say, watch what we do, and hopefully become more gentle with people.
We expect grace from others when we have our mental struggles, but where is our grace
when others need it? Many people don’t openly talk about their mental health struggles
so you can’t assume that the person in front of you doesn’t. We should tread lightly with
our words around everyone. We don’t know what comment could hit them hard. We don’t
know what gesture could make them nervous and shut down.
The truth is, everyone has mental health issues. No one can be considered “normal.” Yes,
people are diagnosed with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc., but we all struggle
with something, even if it’s not a medical condition. We all have insecurities that we
don’t talk about. We all have comments that hit us differently than intended. People carry
around baggage everyday; grief, worry, sadness, confusion. So really, if we care about
mental health even the slightest, we need to stop our hurtful habits; making jokes about
killing ourself, making comments about someone’s scars, minimizing anyone’s feelings,
commenting on people’s appearance, comparing someone’s suffering to another’s, and
blaming people for how they’re feeling. There’s so many things we do in a day that
people take offense to; no one’s fault.
Now, no one can expect perfection. We all make mistakes. Don’t strive for perfection,
that’ll destroy anyone’s mental health. Just strive for better. Strive to think before you
speak. Strive to listen. All we can do is try to be better for those around us.