Everyone Struggles With Mental Health – Let’s End The Stigma Forever

It’s hard to believe we (i.e. society) still think less of someone who is dealing with a mental illness. We stigmatize those with mental health issues. In contrast, a physical ailment is somehow acceptable. The only reason I have come up with is that a physical ailment is viewed as “not your fault” nor a reflection of you as a person while a mental health issue is something you have the power and control to avoid. To that I say, “Really?”

In reality, the opposite may be true. A “classic” mental disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar may be an uncontrollable chemical imbalance in the brain. On the other hand, lung cancer, heart disease and obesity can be significantly improved with personal lifestyle changes.

Perhaps the reason stigma exists around mental illness is because those suffering may act or behave differently than most people. Once again, just because someone is different does not mean they are “bad”. Sadly, mistreating someone because they are different than you is still commonplace around the world. In the words of the late Rodney King, “Why can’t we all just get along?”.

Another reason mental health stigmas may exist could be because when the general public thinks of mental illness they think schizophrenia, psychopathic, obsessive-compulsive, bipolar and multiple personalities. These disorders obviously exist but in far less numbers (less than 6% of US) than one might think and definitely far less than the mental health issues every person deals with every day.

Did you catch that? Every person on the planet is dealing with mental health issues every single day. If we accept the fact that we all deal with mental health issues everyday then the stigma can end because we’ll all have it. If you must maintain physical health daily then you must maintain mental health daily as well… and we don’t.

Have you ever felt stressed? Have you ever been anxious or worried about an upcoming event or an event that has already passed? Have you ever felt down, depressed, alone or lost even for a brief time? These feelings affect your mental health and are a natural part of life. Similarly, heart and lung health, ear, nose and throat, weight, skin and more factor into your physical health.

So what is society doing and what are you doing to improve your mental health? In recent years there has been a significant push toward physical health and wellness. Fitness and nutrition programs and apps have become well-accepted in today’s culture. But, what resources are available to improve mental health short of seeking counseling? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of counseling but it seems that resource is only called upon when a crisis is at-hand.

Did you know that personal connection can significantly improve your overall mental health? Relationships and a personal connection with someone is a basic human need. The bond between a parent and child is an obvious place to find connection. But also think about that teacher or coach you had as a child. Perhaps you had a best friend or group of friends that served as your deepest support network. It doesn’t matter where you find connection as long as you have found somebody and they have found you.

The key is, connection requires a two-way sharing of personal information. I’m not talking about deep dark secrets but I am talking about what you’re thinking and feeling. No, not what you post on social media, such as “I’m having the best margarita of my life!”. But something you’d share with only your best friend, such as, “I’m applying for a promotion at work and if I get it I can really help take our company to a new level.”

When you feel connected and supported it can lift your spirits on a tough day and give you the strength to move forward. Having a connection can give you the confidence to try something new because if it works out, you can celebrate together. If it doesn’t work, that person is there to help you through it. “Everybody needs somebody,” sings Bryan Adams and it’s true.

Easing the stress of life’s greatest and hardest moments and having someone who is there for you and you for them helps reduce the work our brains have to manage. In doing so we are improving our state of mental health.

Few programs exist for the masses to help improve their overall mental and emotional wellness. Fortunately, one called FamilyeJournal.com improves wellness by helping you improve your communication and connection. It’s free to use and great for ages 7+. FamilyeJournal is a fun and super simple way to have fun conversation with those closest to you. It only takes about 5 minutes to use so give it a try for a few weeks.

I began by discussing the stigma of mental health and I hope I’ve shown you why the stigma is unfounded because we all deal with our own mental health every day. I then explained how having a personal connection can ease the stress on your mental health system. Finally, I offered a program that’s free and can help you build those connections no matter what your age or where you live.

Advertisements

Are We Getting the “Real” Connection We Need?

The word “connection” can take many different meanings these days. Connected (the film), discusses how we, people, are using technology more and more and we’re completely addicted to it. It’s getting faster every day and as the film says, when will we cease to be able to keep up.

Families need to connect and fit together like a puzzle.

I am in total agreement with Connected – The Film, that people and their interdependence is key. In the past 12 years that I’ve been observing and learning I ultimately draw the same conclusion every time. Of course, I may be rather biased at this point but that is all the more reason to discuss these ideas.

My basic frustration is the lack of connection between people. Or, in other words, the false sense of connection we think we have and especially the hypnotic path we are on (e.g. leaving dinner with a friend to check our digital world, a family or group of friends sharing a meal but everyone is on their phone). More specifically, I believe the lack of “real” and “true” connection within a family is actually the root of most of society’s bigger problems (e.g. suicide, bullying, gun violence, drugs, alcohol, cutting, fighting, bulimia, anorexia, obesity, etc.).

Instant Gratification - I want it now!Recall back to Introduction to Psychology, where Abraham Maslow theorized there is a Hierarchy of Needs common to all humans. I believe his theory is correct and the Need for Connection is not being met with most people. In short, we continue to try and fulfill the Need for Connection (i.e. non-romantic love) with other, more instantly gratifying means but these means have no real value so we are left unfulfilled. So, we go out and get more and more, faster and faster. Nothing is satisfying but we keep getting more. A new iPhone, a nicer car, a bigger house, another helping of pasta, ice cream, checking a Facebook status, updating our own status… it’s not fast enough…. I need more so I get a Twitter account and I follow thousands of people to get more non-personal updates and the cycle continues.

Unfortunately, none of this instant gratification adds value to our lives but they meet our need – for a moment. The truth is we need REAL connection but that takes time and effort and is only developed after great joy and sometimes pain. But, if it’s worth staying true, the Connection Need is completely fulfilled and we ARE satisfied and then we grow. Human connection takes time and requires the ability to seek the delayed gratification but when it is reached it is incredibly valuable to us.

Instant Gratification Race of Zero Miles RunToday, society too often falls short when it comes to seeking delayed gratification. Children are forced into it for their high school diploma but what else? Some of us find it when we graduate from college, train for a marathon or triathlon, we used to have it with lay-away programs at K-Mart and Sears but now we just buy on credit with money we don’t even have. Trying to fulfill our Need for Connection the wrong way has put very far along a very dangerous path. Some may recall the automotive industry, housing industry, banking industry… do we need more evidence? No, we need solutions that address the cause not the symptoms. Suicide, drugs, alcohol, bullying, eating disorders ARE ALL SYMPTOMS!

My goal is to help people rebuild their connection with their family. To fulfill their Need for Connection by bonding with the people who they say are most important to them. Family (and friends) relationships are what people value more than anything else yet we typically take them for granted and we rarely cultivate them especially in our younger years. But I figured out a way to use technology and a little instant gratification to help people connect and over time, without even realizing it, they’ll be connecting deeper and more positively than ever before.

FamilyeJournal Logo

FamilyeJournal helps families communicate and connect but it requires a little work, like 5 minutes a few days a week. (This image is a preview of the new logo.)

That is the goal I’m trying to achieve with my website www.familyejournal.com. It’s a huge task but one I think the world needs and will greatly benefit from. There is a place for Facebook and Twitter but a need for FamilyeJournal.