October 10 was recognized as World Mental Health Day but it’s fair to say mental health is something we should be talking about every day, not just on October 10. The real focus of World Mental Health Day is not only to recognize the prevalence of mental health and really put a face to it, but also to focus on the gaps in health services that people with mental health concerns have and the stigma still associated with mental illness.

Mental illness shows itself in so many ways during so many stages of life:

  • In grandparents who have been isolated for so long and whose minds have started to wander.
  • In parents who are experiencing something beyond the ‘baby blues’ or preparing for their children to head off to college or who are just trying to keep an unstable marriage alive for their children’s sake.
  • In adults who are dealing with the constant pressure of living up to expectations, so often their own.
  • In children who struggle to come to terms with the constantly changing world around them and where or how they fit in.

For those of us not amongst the almost one billion people who have a mental disorder, we’re affected because the people we love are personally affected.

I know it seems cliché these days but you never really know what someone else might be going through. That smile they give you in the hallway might be hiding suicidal thoughts. That purposefully avoided eye contact might be someone pleading to simply hear a ‘hello’. That overdose in the school restroom is a literal cry for help.

As you think about your own mental health today and the mental health of the people that matter most in your world, consider the strangers as well. And remember that you don’t know what journey they have faced, you don’t know what path they’re following, and you don’t know what makes them tick. Be kind to them. Give them some grace. And let them know you care. While you’re at it, do the same for yourself.

For some great resources on depression, suicide, and mental health in general, head to www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2021/

Beth Bangtson, HR Manager