Many people are faced with mental health problems on a daily basis. This may sound like a lot, but there is one thing that is easy to forget when we talk about mental health and the challenges people can face – every person and every challenge is unique. There is a sense of community and togetherness that is important when it comes to mental health discourse (think of “You are not alone” and phrases to that effect), but it can be difficult to remember Even though we’re at it Together, each person is on their own mental health path. This means that we will meet our challenges in many different ways that can be overlooked in the way we talk about mental health.
I don’t talk to every single person I meet about my personal approach to mental health. I wish I could, but it’s not always easy. There are a few barriers that make it difficult to share experiences, resources, and have a productive conversation about mental health. While they don’t completely ruin an interaction, they exclude an aspect of the conversation that could lead to a better interaction.
One of the quickest ways to end a mental health conversation is when someone says something like, “Well, I wouldn’t have done it that way”. While this may be correct, our tone of voice and what we center the conversation on is extremely important when we are talking about mental health.
Mental health is rarely in a nutshell, and when we talk to someone about their own mental health, their experience needs to be the focus. This is important not only because it is what that person deserves as a person, but also because it is most effective to provide help and support to that person. But this nuance is easy to forget when a large community gets together – despite being one of the most important aspects of mental health.
When it comes to mental health, there has always been a certain nuance, but it has not always been recognized. The idea that mental health is intersectional is still new to many people, and the idea that each person’s mental health is unique to their experience also feels like a new concept that gets lost in the mix, but it is one of the most important parts of all of this.
Talking about mental health is impossible without understanding that each individual is on their own journey. This is what our community is based on – not that our experience is the same, but that we are all on our own unique mental health journey. The more we name this and draw attention to this aspect of mental health, the more we can build on this person-centered approach to how we talk about mental health.