Tahoe Mom Talk: Work together to reduce mental health stigmas
May 13, 2017
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a movement that is close to my heart. Next month, it will be 11 years since I lost my brother to suicide. It took years to come to terms with his death and what led to it, but over time I've learned that addressing awareness and education around mental health is essential so we can build resilience and reduce stigma.
The truth is, we all have mental health. You have it. I have it. It's no different than physical health … we all have it. And yet, we don't talk about maintaining mental health the way we do with physical health.
If I mention that I'm going to the gym this afternoon, no one would flinch. But if I say I have a therapist appointment, people expect that it should be muttered quietly … under my breath. Addressing how we maintain our mental health is a massively important topic and one we should be talking more openly about.
Just like we all have mental and physical health, the same could be said for how we maintain it. Some of us have the coping mechanisms, the resilience and perhaps the genetics to maintain a healthy balance. Others battle mental illness silently. As I mentioned above, we have not quite evolved as a society to where we can all openly share, the way we do on other health topics.
I constantly remind myself that this is a marathon, not a race. I feel lucky to have a close circle of moms who express the same worries and concerns. But we moms just don’t give ourselves enough grace or credit.
As a mom, I feel that this topic is especially important. Have you ever heard of "mom guilt?" I experience it every day. It's a form of mental health that I strive to find balance in. Raising two boys is so rewarding, but it comes with its share of challenges. Are the boys eating the right foods? Learning at the right pace for their ages? Playing with the right friends at school? Sleeping enough? Stretching their imagination enough? Am I a bad mom for putting another movie on? Or going out on date night and leaving them behind with a babysitter? Should I play more with them? Or let them find their own independence?
I constantly remind myself that this is a marathon, not a race. I feel lucky to have a close circle of moms who express the same worries and concerns. But we moms just don't give ourselves enough grace or credit.
I'm here today to tell you that as a fellow mama, you are not alone and you're doing the best job you know how. I also want to tell you that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others, whether that includes husbands, partners, friends and of course children.
Some good tips for self-care? Get up early (before the rest of the household) and work out or do some yoga. Allow yourself to put your phone down and get outside. Enjoy some vitamin D and watch the kids run around. Reach out to a friend and grab a cup of coffee. Take a moment to laugh … did you know that laughing helps to reduce anxiety? It's true.
We can all work together to reduce the stigmas around mental health and help to normalize the conversation. Reach out to a friend, give back, and ask questions … it's OK! You can see more about local mental health tips and events over at Barton's website this month: bartonhealth.org/mentalhealthmonth.
Natasha Schue is a mom of two boys, wife and a full-time working, young professional. You can read more about her family adventures on her blog schuelove.com or follow her on Instagram @schuelove. You can send questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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