We need to fix this!

The way we talk about mental health is broken in my opinion. We need to fix this because we are all vulnerable. I am struck all the time by how ambiguous words like mental health and also mental illness are used. When in fact it is quite simple. Everyone has health, both mental and physical, but not everyone will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. However, everyone will experience an impairment of their mental and physical health from time to time. A number of life events can leave you feeling down or sad and your mental well-being/health is impacted but this is not the same as having a diagnosed depression for example.

We write and talk about mental health a lot on the internet, but usually only in connection with yoga, wellness, self-love, or other positive associations about your well-being. Unfortunately, we rarely or never talk about it in connection with mental illness and its consequences. Wellness has become the poster child for the mental health conversation and is overshadowing the deeply needed discussion about mental illnesses. And this is a huge problem, because it gives the impression that mental illnesses only affect "some" people. The fact is mental illnesses do not discriminate and can affect anyone. You can often reduce the risk of getting mentally ill or the severity of the illness, as with physical illnesses, but you can’t eliminate it.

Additionally, the constant association of mental health with wellness increases the pressure on people with mental illness, as it can create the feeling that you "just need to love yourself and your body a little more, do a little yoga or sit in the sun for a while" and you’ll be cured. It seems to me sometimes that "do more wellness, pratice more self love" is the new "pull yourself together", just with a sugar coating. This has to change. We need to open the room for people to safely talk about their mental illnesses, their struggles and daily fights. Without being lectured, shamed or silenced. We need to take care of each other.