Part of life right now is experiencing ups and downs throughout the day. Over the course of a week, we can feel so many different emotions; sad, scared, angry, frustrated, grateful, agitated, happy, calm, numb…. For some, the highs and lows can be extreme. For others, life can feel very flat. No matter how we are feeling, we sometimes get to thinking “what’s wrong with me?”. It can be hard to recognize, in ourselves, those varied emotions. It is much easier to recognize the emotions and behaviours of others around us. Varied emotions are completely normal and common right now. You are not alone in this. So many people are going through a similar experience and question everything.
As mental health professionals, our greatest challenge right now is helping people recognize that “Everyone has Mental Health”. The words Mental Health don’t mean “crazy” or “mentally ill”….they mean simply, the health of our minds. You have a mind right? You are human? You feel things? If yes, then you have mental health.
All functioning humans are on a continuum or spectrum of healthy thinking and emotions. At one end, we experience healthy thoughts and emotions, in the middle, we experience some distress or difficulty coping and at the other end, we can experience the inability to cope with stress and see significant changes in behaviour, thoughts and actions. Everyone slides around on this scale daily based on what is happening in their lives.
What we are all wrestling with, is the concept of needing support to keep mentally healthy. It is very difficult to recognize that we need support. We all want to just ‘figure it out’. Needing support doesn’t mean that you need professional help or that you are mentally ill. It means that you are a human with human emotions that can be hard to sort out.
We want people who understand us and can be depended on during tough times. We need people who will listen to us and give us honest feedback. Research has proved that having a support system has many positive benefits, such as higher levels of well-being, better coping skills and a longer and healthier life. Studies have also shown that social support can reduce depression and anxiety. Some people do best with a large support group, while others need a small support system. Giving and receiving support from others is a basic human need.
The word support can mean different things to different people. It's not a bad word. Feeling supported could mean a simple smile, a positive comment or talking with someone who has a shared experience. A sense of support can also come from your ability to support someone else. Sending a nice message, sharing your experiences with someone or simply asking them how they are doing…and really listening. Supporting someone else in any small way can do wonders for your own mental health.