By: Delanee Ensley

Even today there tends to be a lot of stigma around mental health. There is fear of being judged and facing embarrassment from the loved ones around you. That’s why May is dedicated to allowing you to relieve some of that stress and understand that mental health is not something that you need to be ashamed of.

Mental health is something difficult to wrap your head around, and even harder to say the words out loud. Though Mental Health Awareness Month might not make it any easier to talk about, you can at least get rid of the fear that you are alone in your feelings. On the other end of the spectrum, you might find yourself coping well with your mental health, but that does not mean you can’t give yourself some time to relax. Mental health is something that affects everyone, even if it’s not always in the same ways.

According to National Today, Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949 by the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, now known as Mental Health America Organization. This committee was founded by Clifford Whittingham Beers, who came from a family that suffered from mental illness. Beers decided that it was time to bring awareness to the cause after watching family members struggle. He wanted others to know that they weren’t alone.

Though the understanding of mental health has come a long way since 1949, there is still an unhealthy amount of stigma surrounding the topic. However, through outreach and helping others understand that this isn’t something that someone can control, we can grow stronger as a community in order to help those who need our support. Some suggestions on how to participate in Mental Health Awareness Month is to first and foremost take care of yourself. Though I understand this is easier said than done, it’s good to just check in with your brain. Mental health is just as important as physical health, if something is hurting you need to take care of yourself, don’t try to explain it away, listen to your body. Next, check-in with those around you. If you have a family member that you know struggles with their mental health, ask how they’re doing, see if they need to talk, or just be there for them if they need it. Just knowing that you have a loved one to talk to can make a world of difference. Lastly, don’t keep mental health a secret. Mental health doesn’t need to be a dirty secret to whisper about. Though it can be an uncomfortable topic to bring up, everyone needs to know that it doesn’t have to be something they hide. The more we talk about mental health the more awareness and understanding we can spread.

Your body is there to take care of you, so it’s time we’re there to take care of it. Take some time this month to listen to your brain. More people than you would guess struggle with some sort of mental illness. Like I said above, just because someone doesn’t want to talk about it, or think about it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Love yourself, and understand that you’re not alone.