We have come to the end of October, and if you are like me, that means it was Halloween month! The time to binge-watch horror films from the 80s, buy pumpkins to carve, and eat a little more candy than usual. During October, a lot of things should be scary, your costume, decorations, maybe even student loans. What should not be scary is mental health. Here are a few reasons why:
Everyone has mental health.
Often in our culture, mental health is conflated with mental illness. This conflation is a misconception; just like physical health, everyone has mental health. And like your physical health, it is important to take care of our mental health. Even if you do not suffer from a mental illness, take time for yourself to practice self-care. You can journal, call friends, meditate, whatever works for you. If you take care of your physical health by working out, eating well, getting enough sleep, then you should treat your mental health just as seriously.
Having a mental illness is more common than you think.
Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans personally experience a mental illness every year? That means that even if you do not have a mental illness, odds are someone you know likely does. Even though the media, and some of our favorite horror movies, portray mental illness as rare and something to be afraid of, it is not. Studies also show that on average, Americans who live with mental illnesses are less violent than the average population. So, you should not be fearful when someone mentions mental illness. Although it can be difficult to live with a mental illness, the people who suffer from them are everywhere and not a danger.
Destigmatizing mental health is particularly important right now.
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly everyone’s mental health has been negatively affected. A recent study by Active Minds found that 89% of college students are experiencing stress or anxiety as a result of Covid-19. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed, many have lost loved ones, and others have been impacted by climate disasters, whether that be the wind storms in the midwest or the fires on the Pacific coast. Although most of us cannot do anything to help these large scale catastrophes, we can work together to destigmatize mental health and offer help to those in need.
Talk to your friends and family about mental health, ask them how they really are doing, and most importantly, make time to check-in on yourself. Take the necessary steps, whether that be therapy or a vacation from your normal routine. Not only will you help yourself, but others around you will see that it’s important to take mental health seriously. A great way to take a break right now may be to celebrate Halloween. Turn off your notifications, grab some popcorn, and put on a good scary movie. You deserve the break and to be kind to yourself.