Mental Health Month: Conversations to build a foundation

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When we the words “mental health,” most of us automatically picture someone struggling with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or another form of mental illness. We don’t think it’s something that applies to us.

And we couldn’t be more wrong.

Though most references to mental health these days are in the context of the most recent mass shooting, or a celebrity seeking treatment for “exhaustion,” the truth is that every one of us works on our own mental health, every day. May is Mental Health Month, making this is a good time to examine our own attitudes and beliefs about mental health, and to examine what the term really means.

Feeling joy, a sense of accomplishment and love are all part of our mental health, as are sadness, work-related stress, anxiety or depression. When we think of our own mental health as a state of balance that we want to maintain- not just the presence or absence of a serious mental illness– we begin to understand the benefit of talking about it more openly.

A campaign we’ve worked on since its inception last year, Let’s Talk Colorado, seeks to do just that- increase everyone’s understanding of what mental health is, help Coloradans feel comfortable talking about our own challenges and encourage people to reach out to someone if they believe they need some support or to just get something off their chest.

If we can all open up to friends or family when we’re stressed out, or when we have a hard time finding something to feely happy about, or if we ask a friend if they need to talk when we recognize they’re not themselves, we’re making progress.

Ultimately, we hope everyone in Colorado will feel supported and comfortable in talking about their mental health, enough that they’ll seek treatment when they need it. Those of us who have worked on this campaign know that won’t happen overnight.

For now, we want to build a foundation of support and understanding, and that foundation is built brick-by-brick, with one-to-one conversations.

I encourage you to go to the Let’s Talk Colorado website and take the two-minute survey. Maybe you’ll learn a little more about your own beliefs on mental health (speaking for myself, the results were an eye-opener). It’s a quick survey, but it’s a big step toward a positive state of mental health for Colorado.