Every Halloween, we’re reminded that, sometimes, it can be fun to be a little scared: from haunted houses, to horror movies, to spooky costumes, it’s part of the excitement. But, there are also times we try to avoid feeling scared, or stressed, or unsure. For many, one of those instances is when it comes to our health, both mental and physical. One of the best things we can do to prevent ourselves from feeling fearful of our mental health is to be educated and have a community to support us. Here are some ways you can prepare to make sure that mental health is not a topic that you find scary:
Find resources that can help you navigate what you’re experiencing
Although no one’s experience with mental health is the same, resources do exist to help us navigate why we may be feeling what we are and what we can do to support ourselves. Many organizations offer free resources to help boost accessibility and ensure everyone can better understand their own mental health. Active Minds offers free, ready-to-use resources on a variety of topics, including depression and bipolar disorder, stress and anxiety, and what to expect from crisis helplines. The first step to making something less scary is to understand it – and understanding why you’re experiencing what you are can make all the difference in how you cope with those feelings!
Build a community that supports and uplifts you
A lot of things become less scary when you don’t have to navigate them alone.. That’s why having a supportive community that empathizes with what you’re going through can make all the difference in your mental health journey. These communities can include your family, friends, classmates, or an Active Minds chapter! Active Minds has chapters on over 600 campuses across the country and internationally, and new members are always welcome. To find out if you have a chapter near you, visit our website. Once you’ve found your community, make an effort to lean on them when you need support, and share what you’re feeling honestly. It can feel uncomfortable or overwhelming at first, but that’s what your support system is there for: to support you!
Learn how to better help a loved one that may be struggling
While it can be hard to navigate your own mental health, sometimes it can be just as hard to support a friend who’s struggling. You might worry you’ll say the wrong thing and upset them, or that your advice won’t be good enough to help them through. Being prepared to have these difficult conversations is one way you can alleviate some of that worry. Active Minds’ everyday tool for everyday conversations, V-A-R®, or Validate-Appreciate-Refer, is one way to begin that preparation. V-A-R reminds us that we don’t have to be an expert to support a friend, we just need to be there. Check out our free toolkit on V-A-R, and consider reviewing it with your friends so that you all have the tools necessary to support each other’s mental health when needed.
Remember that we (and so many others) are here for you
Finally, know that even if you feel alone, you are not. The Active Minds community is here for you. If you’re struggling and feel like you need additional help, we encourage you to contact a professional. Review our referral resources to learn more about what taking that step can look like. There are days that might feel like a challenge and there are days when you’ll feel capable and ready to take on the world. No matter what kind of day you’re having today, know that you’re doing your best, and tomorrow is a fresh start. We’re so happy you’re here, and we’re looking forward to what’s next for each of you.