WHY I'M NERVOUS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH GOING INTO 2021
Doctors and people alike are getting very nervous about mental health. They wonder how it will look in the fast approaching future. You see, mental health is all the rage. It's becoming more and more clear that over the course of the last 6 months (and before that) that the general population has experience insanely high levels of mental health issues/disease. I'm not only talking about Millennials and Gen-X’s, but also Gen-Z's either. Most present more than one disease at a time (e.g. depression and anxiety, anxiety and binge eating, depression and self-harming).
SO, HERE'S THE QUESTION:
If these are the problems that are presenting themselves together on such a large scale in 2020, what is going to be the aftermath of all the changes that are happening, both good and bad?
When you think about mental health, you have to think of it in a variety of contexts and ask yourself a variety of questions, the first question being: Who do I put in charge of my mental health?
You'd be surprised how many people say doctors, parents, even teachers, when, in reality, the answer needs to be you. Here's my issue with it. We live in a society, especially in the Western Hemisphere, in North America, that believes that people who have mental health illnesses are stuck with them for life and have something inherently wrong with them.
Although there are a lot of influencers and educators out there that do have views that oppose society's, in the past, many of the psychologists and psychiatrists would place you in the idea that your mental illness was something that you have and that you have to live with forever and there really isn't any getting better.
BEFORE I JUMP ON THAT BANDWAGON, I WANT TO EXPLAIN SOMETHING.
When it comes to mental health issues, I don't believe that they are getting worse. I do believe that the reported cases are getting worse. A few days ago, my mom and I had a conversation. Now, I'm very open with my mom when it comes to different things such as racism, homophobia, mental health, psychology, and spirituality. I know I can tell her how it is and she will not judge me, plus we can have an okay conversation about it.
She was telling me that she has anxiety and a bunch of other stories. I said, "So essentially what you are telling me is that my entire family, a span of 15 different people, have suffered from long-term anxiety and you've just never spoken about it?!"
She just replied, "Yes." The craziest part was that they didn't even talk to each other about it. This is another reason I’m nervous about mental health. Older people still stigmatize it and don’t talk to anyone.
The best thing that has ever happened to this world (which you may think is ridiculous) is the birth of the millennials, Gen Z's, and the internet. Gen X's and Boomers, we have you to thank! You're our parents. We are not knocking you, we are just saying that this is exactly what needed to happen.
THE “ELITES” AREN'T HAPPY
The “elite” people (those who are racist, homophobic, believe western medicine is the only way, etc.) aren't going to be happy about this. Because we are slowly destigmatizing mental health and so many of us are normalizing our experiences, it takes away their power over us. They would rather have you believe that "you ARE anxious" as it is part of your identity, instead of you realize that "I am experiencing anxiety." They want you to be nervous about mental health.
The reality is that most people have mental health issues sometime in their life (even those racist/homophobic/classist people). The statistics in Canada show that 1 in 2 people have had some kind of mental health problem by the time they are 40. That's the same as cancer. Now, I'm not saying there's a correlation, but I'm also not not saying there's a correlation.
Knowing that, I'm going to answer another question:
AM I NERVOUS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF MENTAL HEALTH?
I am. And I am not. I used to be more nervous about mental health.
Before 2020 hit, I was terrified. I was nervous about starting The Empathy Front because of the strong monopoly that Big Pharma has in North America.
In 2018, the mental health market was at 7 billion dollars. Many studies show most antidepressant medications don't work for people long-term or that show, while the medications work for some people, they don't work for others. This makes sense. Why? Because we are all different!
Each one of us is a make-up of different experiences, different emotions, different trauma, and different genetics. Just because Sally down-the-block lived in the same area as you doesn't mean you experienced the same life. Sure, you shared some similarities (you went to the same school, lived on the same street, played in the same dirt), but when it comes to the psyche, it's entirely different. Your similarities are just a small part of it.
The one thing this has shown me is the resilience among the younger people. It's so interesting because there are all these jokes on TikTok about how Gen Z's can't ask for salad dressing at a restaurant, but will go out and throw their bodies over protestors to protect them. Because of what we've seen Gen Z's and the younger millennials do, I'm so excited for this moment.
I know for me when Coronavirus hit, I felt like my body was prepared for this moment. It's like I had been in anxiety most of my life over such trivial things, so it's been all right when big, crazy, end-of-the-world shit has happened as it has now.
CHANGE YOUR HABITS, CHANGE YOUR SELF-CARE.
One of the things that aren't talked about enough that directly correlates to mental health is the fact that habit has a lot to do with how we take care of ourselves. It also has to do with how our mental health symptoms show up in our everyday life. So if you've been waking up worrying about money for the last 9 months, even though you may not be all that worried about it right now, you're habitually wired to do that again.
Not only from the process of how and what you think about but also from a physical exertion process. A lot of us don't understand how the physical body relates to mental health right now. I'm not saying anything along the lines of "go out and exercise!" I've been depressed and the idea of going out to practice for a 5K (running, jogging, sprinting, or otherwise) is the last thing that's going to happen.
I am talking about moving your body in ways you may not have moved it before. This is a way to flush out emotions and experiences from our bodies. It's integral that this happens because emotions are stored on a cellular level. Because this isn't being highlighted, I feel like this key element of mental health is being left out. Self-care can help you be less nervous about mental health and the future.
In short, I am nervous because there are things that you are not being educated upon. (We forget healing mental health has more than one facet.) But that's why I'm here. That's why I started The Empathy Front.