Starting the Conversation … Mental Health
When we are taught about health, health solutions, and hear others talk about their own health … Those conversations are typically centered on physical health. Just like we all have physical health all of us also have mental health. Having conversations, learning about, and talking about mental health is important and necessary to debunk myths and normalize experiences that many of us have.
What is Mental Health
Mental health is a combination of neurological, situational experiences, feelings, and reactions that impacts how we process and handle life. Sometimes mental health can feel like sadness and anxiety but sometimes it can be more severe and impact every aspect of one’s life. It can impact the ability to take care of everyday needs (e.g., get out of bed, shower, and eating), hold conversations with loved ones, and have coherent thoughts.
Some of us are genetically predisposed to experience serious mental illness (e.g., major depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia) just like some of us are genetically predisposed to physical health issues (e.g., diabetes, high cholesterol, sickle cell anemia, and high blood pressure to name a few). Some families have conversations about physical health histories, symptoms, and treatment. If we are privileged enough to have a primary care physician or family doctor, they have asked about our medical history and the history of parents and grandparents. Can you remember the last time someone asked you about mental health and your families mental health history? Can you remember talking to your family members about the mental health issues that “run in your family?” If so, that is great at least you all are having the conversations and please keep them going. If not, it may be time to start the conversation and normalize mental health.
Ways to Start the Conversation
Here are practical ways you can start the conversation:
Set the tone by talking to your loved ones about mental health and how we all have it. You can use some of the information above. You can also take a look at National Alliance on Mental Illness for detailed information on signs and symptoms.
If you are feeling comfortable enough share some of your own feelings and experiences and ask if your family member(s) have historical knowledge that has been passed down from previous generations about mental health issues. It is important to note that some of our elders may explain it in different ways (for example: hearing voices).
These conversations can create safe spaces, vulnerability, and a support network. Please remember that we all have mental health and in order to take care of ourselves and the ones we love we have to have these conversations. Starting the conversation is the first step.
Finding a Counselor
If you are experiencing mental health issues or feel the need to talk to a counselor about your own mental health you can find one by contacting your local mental health authority or center, contacting your insurance provider, or using a directory. Here are some directories to assist you on your mental health journey: Therapy for Black Girls, Therapy for Black Men, Melanin and Mental Health, and Psychology Today.
Stay tuned to this blog for more information and updates. If you have a topic you would like to pose for the next blog, please share it with me.
Disclaimer: No therapeutic relationship has been established by engaging with blog posts or any social media platform. This includes, but is not limited to liking or repining posts, commenting on posts, or sharing posts. Additionally, contacting Dr. Cartwright via e-mail or social media does not indicate the establishment of a therapeutic relationship. A therapeutic relationship is ONLY established by seeing a clinician for therapy sessions. If you are in need or interested in taking part in direct therapeutic services, please contact your insurance provider’s customer service for assistance. You may also visit Therapy for Black Girls, Therapy for Black Men, Melanin and Mental Health, and Psychology Today to “Find a Therapist” in your area.