Recently, Tabulit artist and creator of the title Crutch, announced her diagnosis with a mental illness. Here is her comic.
The Courage to Talk About Mental Health
Jade took commendable courage to announce her diagnosis and program. She could have easily kept fans and Tabulit subscribers out of her personal affairs and come back later. Her openness, vulnerability and humility challenged me to reflect upon how we talk about mental health as a society.
Stats on the Decline of Mental Health Cannot Be Ignored
Studies are showing that depression for adolescents and teens increased between 2005 and 2014. Another study shows suicide rates for the same demographic rose sharply between 2007 and 2015. Finally, the number of children and teens admitted to hospitals for suicidal thoughts or self-harm doubled during roughly the same time period according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Lady Gaga is Challenging the Stigma
Although I don't listen to her music or agree with all her views, Lady Gaga is someone I respect in this area. In a personal letter from her on the Born This Way Foundation website, Gaga also took tremendous courage in revealing her diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). In the post she writes:
Replacing Shame with Joy Leads to Hope
Shame is the emotion of wanting to hide. Shame is a natural emotion when we have done something "bad," such as accidentally offending someone with a poor choice of words. Shame helps us correct our social choices in an appropriate way. But shame can become toxic when we move from thinking we did something bad to thinking we are bad. Toxic shame attacks our self esteem and sense of worth.
The "antidote" for toxic shame is the emotion of joy. Joy is the feeling of being glad to be with each other in strength and, especially, weakness. In the case of mental health, we need to be able to share our weaknesses with each other with joy. This creates hope which empowers us to take appropriate action for wellness.
Mental Health First Aid
I was excited to find a new organization called Mental Health First Aid. This organization, which supported by many celebrities including Lady Gaga, provides an eight-hour training, often described as "CPR for the mind," that helps people identify signs of mental illness and addiction in order to offer appropriate support and resources. When people took the class, they described walking away feeling confident they can better spot the symptoms of psychological distress or crisis.
Programs like Mental Health First Aid actually train people to talk about mental health with joy and give people hope before it is too late. This is very much what I strive to do for my clients who also struggle with different forms of mental health challenges. On a more personal note, my brother has struggled with mental health issues for years and has also been a role model in my life on how to be brave and have joy. So, I love the fact more people are becoming aware and learning opportunities are available.
Let's all have the courage to have conversations about mental health with joy. The more we do, the less shame and stigma there will be which is healthier for us all. And if you are an individual that might have challenges in this area, may you have the courage to talk and find hope. There is always hope if you are open to it.