Mental health is in the news right now. It’s on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post every week if not more often. The topic is a wide one covering everything from schizophrenia to substance use disorders, from mild depression and anxiety to suicidal ideation. It is of great concern and pervasive across many dimensions of life, from life in the workplace to the well-being of our children at home and in school.
I am helping to lead an initiative that seeks to eliminate the stigma around mental health and substance use disorders, sponsored by the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, but including leadership from organizations we are all familiar with: the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Society for Human Resource Management, The Jed Foundation, The Carter Center, and many, many others.
We had our first major leadership event last month, well attended, and collaboration was high. This fall there will be a summit bringing together 1-2oo organization focused on eliminating stigma.
During my leadership interviews, one set of insights, in particular, stuck with me. I was speaking to a gentleman who is a psychologist himself and leads one of the premier psychology associations in the world. He said this to me (paraphrasing here): ‘First, we must recognize that our mental health operates on a continuum, just like our physical health. It goes up and down. I can eat fast food for lunch today and skip the gym and my physical health drops. Tomorrow I can eat a salad for lunch and work out and as a result my physical health increases. So it is with mental health. Depending on the events of the day it slides along a continuum. Second, this work is not for them. It’s for us. This is about us. All of us.’
What will you be doing in the week ahead to feed your mental health? How will you be setting yourself up for success?
“There is no health without mental health; mental health is too important to be left to the professionals alone, and mental health is everyone’s business.”
– Vikram Patel