Spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle said, “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” Being aware includes information or knowledge and a level of understanding. Let’s start with information: Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act and helps determine how we make decisions, relate to others, and handle stress.
Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. You can take action to increase awareness and understanding by increasing your knowledge and sharing resources with your friends and family to raise acceptance surrounding the mental well-being of children, youth, and young adults.
Experiences throughout the pandemic have affected the state of mental health in our country and struggling with mental health is common. Struggling with mental health is individual and can interfere with our ability to work, sleep, eat, be in relationships, and enjoy life.
I encourage you to think about the difference between awareness and acceptance. You may consider moving from a traditional recognition ribbon to an infinity symbol. Awareness can bring about change. Acting on the awareness with acceptance can continue that change. I like to think of this as a shift from “I” to “We.” “I” is separating/isolating, while “we” is collective/considerate. Malcolm X once said, “When I is replaced by we, even illness becomes wellness.”
I invite you to join me in gaining awareness and sharing compassion!
Here are some sources for more information to raise awareness about mental health, and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the nation’s behavioral health. For more information visit www.samhsa.gov/mental-health/how-to-talk.
FindSupport.gov is a site designed to help you answer questions and find support for issues with mental health, drugs, or alcohol, launched last week.
Mental Health America (MHA) provides a toolkit and specific information directed to individual organizations and businesses mhanational.org/mental-health-month. MHA’s work is driven by its commitment to promoting mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services, and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal.
Our surroundings play a significant role in shaping our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and overall health, and learning about the impact of our surroundings on our mental health is a valuable way to take control of our well-being. Check out the information, resources, and tools to get started. mhanational.org/mental-health-month/learn-more. And some additional tips on staying healthy mhanational.org/staying-mentally-healthy.
Rachel M. Ludwig is project coordinator for the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene.