When I say the words “mental health,” where does you mind go? What is the first thing you think of? When I think of the words “mental health,” my instinct is to think about myself, and I suspect I’m not alone. We have a tendency to think about issues and topics through our own lens. It makes things easier to understand, process and work through problems when we can do this. However, this tendency can also do a world of damage. Today, I want to talk about the importance of making a positive impact – and how you can help.
This post was partly inspired by research for my Pride Month post earlier this week. Besides demographic data, a lot of the data connected a person’s mental health to how society treats that person. I know I’m not the first person to say this, but the way we treat people impacts their mental health. It might seem obvious but also, we forget this all the time!
A significant part of the mental health conversation is from our own perspectives. It makes sense; you are the person most impacted by your mental health. I’m no different. My instinct is to think about mental health based on my experience, and my posts reflect that. But the modern culture of self-care and “choosing ourselves” can get ugly.
You don’t get to be a bigot in the name of mental health. You don’t get to disrespect others while invoking mental illness. Citing mental health as part of your racism, homophobia or anything else is disrespectful and disingenuous.
Did you know that you can have a positive impact on someone’s mental health? Seriously, how often do we talk about this? When you respect someone’s identity, there’s a direct correlation between improving mental health. Here’s one of the most powerful stats I found in my research this week:
“Transgender and nonbinary young people who reported that all of the people they live with respect their pronouns reported lower rates of attempting suicide.”
You can frame it however you want, but lives are at stake. The way you treat people matters, and we can’t only look out for ourselves. My mental health is just as important as yours, which is just as important as anyone else reading this. To ignore that, or to treat someone else as if that isn’t true, is wrong. It’s simply wrong.
I realize I’m getting on a bit of a soap box here, so I’ll try to bring it full circle. Sometimes, our focus on our own mental wellness can come at the expense of others. Without meaning to, we deny the fact that our actions can impact the mental health of others. We can’t always control when someone impacts on our mental health in a negative way. But we can control how we treat others, and choose to impact other people’s mental health in a positive way. And if you can believe it, positive actions can do wonders for our own mental wellness. It’s worth a shot to be kind.