How can we feel more comfortable talking about mental health?

May 16, 2023

Mental health has become a hot-button topic in media, politics, schools and everyday life. However, with all the increased buzz about mental health, many articles, TikToks and speeches forget to mention the facts surrounding mental health and how we can use positive language to help destigmatize it. So with May being Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some ways to discuss and address mental health in your life. 

Person-first language, always - When discussing mental health and mental health disorders, it is essential to use person-centered language. In discussing someone's experiences or health conditions, we must be mindful of how that is presented. A mental health diagnosis is not a personality trait or a defining characteristic of someone. Remember to center conversations about mental health around the person and their experiences rather than the condition itself. Instead of saying, "He seems crazy" or "Why are you being so anxious?" try rephrasing your sentences to, "He seems to be going through a lot right now" or "Is there anything I can do to help you with your anxiety?" This type of speech can help increase dialogue about mental health and lead to more open and honest conversations about individuals' lived experiences. 

Be respectful - Mental health is often used at the end of a joke about someone's personality traits. This only continues to stigmatize mental health and hurts the feelings of those on the other end of the conversation. We need to discuss and frame mental health conditions the same way we talk about medical conditions. Nobody jokes about cancer, so why should we treat depression any differently? Showing respect toward someone's mental and physical health promotes positivity, inclusivity and consideration for their well-being. 

Lack of respect toward mental health can also originate from misinformation and lack of education. TikTok and other social media platforms can build a community around similar experiences, but often need to provide informative health information from professionals. It is imperative that our culture and community have the desire to be educated about mental wellness. Every single individual has mental health experiences and benefits from feeling mentally well. 

What can you do? Even though mental health can be uncomfortable to talk about, that does not mean it should be ignored or dismissed. Find ways to feel comfortable on these subjects, and don't shy away from comments, questions or ideas that you may have revolving around mental health. Talking with a therapist, engaging in positive self-care, and prioritizing your health and well-being are ways to engage in mental health support and awareness. Try some of the ideas below to prioritize your own mental health:

  • Join a book club to increase your socialization
  • Take a daily walk outside or sit on a bench for 30 minutes to connect with nature and get some fresh air
  • Prepare your favorite meal to eat
  • Go to an exercise class, yoga class or turn on a workout video to get your heart pumping and your body moving 
  • Take time to read a book, or watch your favorite show or movie to unwind
  • Connect with your friends, family or support groups to discuss your feelings, emotions and well-being. 

Have more questions? Atracare's Mental Health Department offers outpatient counseling in person at our office in Lewes or remotely from anywhere in Delaware. Contact us today at 302-268-8720 to learn how to schedule an appointment with a therapist or medication provider.  

Dr. Dane Bluestone is the director of mental health and public health advisor at Atracare.
  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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