1. Mental health is a thing?
All right, so let me break this down. I literally had no idea mental health was a thing. It was just non-existent – I never thought about it. But it’s a thing! And everyone has it! And what is it? Mental health is basically a person’s psychological and emotional well-being.1/5 live with mental illness but 5/5 have mental health.
2. It’s okay to talk about it
It might be the scariest, hardest thing for you to do, but it’s okay to talk about it. Whatever it is. And you’ll feel so much better. You have people all around you who care and support you, some you might not even know. But if you talk about it and let them in, the biggest rock will be lifted off of your shoulders. People will listen, and you’ll feel better than ever.
3. You are not alone
You should never have to feel alone. And you aren’t. There’s a whole army behind you and you might not even know them, but they’re there. And they’re here for you.
And if you feel like you need someone anonymous to talk to, you can always visit kidshelpphone.ca
4. Everyone is affected
It’s not just you and me. Everybody is affected by mental illness in some way and everyone has mental health. Celebrities like Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, and Kid Cudi (just to name a few) are people just like us. They’re talking about it, which is so courageous and brave, and you are just as strong as they are.
5. It doesn’t define you
Mental illness does not define you!! I can’t say this enough. You are not your mental illness and you never will be. You’re a beautiful person. Maybe you can cook a mean lasagna, or maybe you care so much about the environment, you might even know how to juggle. You have so many amazing qualities, and they might seem small or irrelevant, but they’re apart of who you are. They are part of what may you so special.
6. Mental health is just as important as physical health
You shouldn’t have to feel guilty about your mental health. And way too many people do. Calling in sick at work only seems valid when you’re physically sick. But your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Take those days for you. It’s okay to take time off from work, you’re mental health is so, so important. Take the time you need, and don’t feel guilty about that.
7. The difference between mental health and mental illness
So what’s the difference? At first I didn’t think there was a difference. A lot of the time, mental health and mental illness get pushed together and are seen as the same thing. But they’re not. Everybody has mental health. As I said before, it’s a person’s psychological and emotional well-being. But what’s mental illness? Disorders that affect your mood, thinking, and behaviour – there’s a wide range of mental health conditions that mental health refers to. As CMHA says "Mental illnesses can take many forms, just as physical illnesses do"
8. Language in conversation to use
It’s 2016 people, language is so important. There’s so many phrases and words that are really universal regarding pop-culture – lit, dabbing, ???. We know how quickly things catch on. A lot of the time, we don’t even realize what the words we say really mean. A common one here at WYL that we avoid is so commonly used: crazy. Little things like that definitely help you to be more aware of the language you use, and it’s such an easy thing to do.
9. The importance of listening
When it comes to talking to people about their mental health, it’s okay if you don’t know what to say. Listening is so important. Also, everyone’s mental health is a bit different, so everyone talks about it differently. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about it. Talking about it is so important, starting the conversation is really what sparks that first step for a lot of us. And it feels so good when we do that.
10. Self-care looks different for everyone
There are zero rules for self-care. Whether you want to stay in bed all day long cuddled up with your dog and Netflix, or if you want to bake 12 dozen cupcakes – it’s completely up to you. Whatever makes you happy is the perfect self-care activity. And you don’t have to self-care alone! Get all your pals together and have a movie night, or spend some quality time with the people you love.
11. The bad days vs. the good days
I’m going to be straight. You’ll have bad days, and they’ll be hard, but they’ll make you stronger and one step closer to the top of that mountain. People will understand if you’re having a bad day because we ALL have them. And you shouldn’t feel guilty when you do have a bad day. When those bad days creep up on you, don’t dwell on them – think about the good days.
Oh yeah, did I tell you you’ll have good days?
Those days when you feel unstoppable and can conquer the world.
Those treat yo’ self days.
Those lay in bed thinking about the good stuff days.
Days when you get all the kisses from your pets.
The days when a stranger in front of you buys your coffee or tea.
The days when you didn’t give up and although it was a “bad day” you got through it and came out on top.
12. Self-care isn’t selfish
!!! This is so important. You shouldn’t have to feel bad for taking the time for you. You are so important and you’re mental health is too. So have those days for you and remember, self-care isn’t selfish.
Written by WYL photographer, Kelsey Schroeder