WANT INSTANT BLOG INSPIRATION FOR YOUR BUSINESS?JOIN THE COMMUNITY!
GET INSTANT BLOG INSPIRATION!

blog

"I, [STATE YOUR NAME]..."

3 ways you can fight stigma and promote mental health TODAY.

 

READY TO WRITE YOUR FIRST 50+ BLOG POSTS (FULL OF HEART + FREE OF STRESS)?

INSTANT FREE DOWNLOAD + WEEKLY(-ISH) COPYWRITING TIPS & RESOURCES FOR YOUR HEALTH + WELLNESS BUSINESS!

it's free!
100% Privacy Guaranteed.
AS SEEN ON
DRMICHAELA.COM | mental health pledge

 

The humanity we all share is more important than the mental illnesses we may not.
                                                     Elyn Saks


NOTE: This is the second of a two-part post. You can find Part I HERE


Although an estimated 1 in 5 of us are living with a mental illness, the stigma surrounding mental illness is real and it is well-documented. Even after all this time.

This stigma, which harms those who live with mental illness AND those who do not, presents several opportunities for advocacy.

I’d like to share 3 of them with you today.

When preparing my undergraduate Abnormal Psychology course for the first time, I knew I wanted to open the first day of class with a discussion of the guiding assumptions of the course:

  • “Normality” is a social construct that should be critically evaluated and debated.
  • Health is not merely the absence of illness.
  • There is importance and value both in our shared humanity AND in our differences.

Rather than expecting a new class of students to jump right into this discussion, however, I decided some sort of “ice breaker” activity might help.

Except I hate ice breakers. Hate them.

See, I don’t believe “fun” should be forced, and I think this kind of activity functions mostly as means to bond a group of strangers in their shared resentment of the activity leader(s).

(Hmm. Maybe that’s the point?)

But, I couldn’t think of anything better. So, I opened the class with an ice breaker.

I loosely modeled my hybrid activity after musical-chairs and “Never Have I Ever” (a game which has its roots in drinking culture, making it either a highly relevant choice or an ill-advised one… I tried not to overthink it), and presented the class with a series of statements beginning “Never have I ever…”.

As each statement was read, the students who had, in fact, done the thing would dash across the room to claim an open seat.

“Never have I ever fallen asleep in class…”
“Never have I ever thrown trash in the recycling bin…”
“Never have I ever lied to my parents…”

“Never have I ever lied for the fun of it…”

We’d pause to invite individuals to elaborate on certain unique admissions of sleep-walking, etc., and we’d regard with skeptical wonder those who seemed never to have broken a single rule or cultural norm.

And we’d all relax a bit in the process.

In time, the prompts would edge into new territory, hinting at course material to come…

“Never have I ever felt ashamed or embarrassed about some part of my body…”
“Never have I ever felt out of control…”
“Never have I ever had a thought too bizarre to share with anyone else…”

…and the students kept right on playing. They were fantastic.

Eventually, we’d return to our seats to talk about the activity, and how on earth it relates to the course. Then, we’d move into our discussion of the foundational goals and assumptions of the course.

I’d close the period by distributing a worksheet (a modified version of which I’ll share below), inviting the class to reflect on the topic of mental illness, and to outline some specific goals for themselves over the course of the semester.

We agreed that the worksheet represented our pledge to do our best to promote mental health.

Our Mental Health Promoters’ Pledge.


If the thought of taking on the title of ACTIVIST or ALLY to the mental illness community feels too intimidating, may I suggest a simpler solution?

Just promote mental health.

Be a mental health promoter.

You can become one today, right now, by taking 3 simple steps:

1. Educate yourself.

A few places to start:

2. Pledge to promote mental health.

  • Take the Pledge my students took (you can download a copy below).
  • Visit the NAMI website, and take their pledge, too.

    need some mental health inspiration?

    Check out my Pinterest boards on:
    self-careMENTAL HEALTH


3. Follow up with action.

  • Choose 1 action item from your Pledge and make it happen! (Scroll down for a downloadable sheet to help you track your progress)
  • Share this post with your friends and family, so they can Pledge their support, too!

That’s it! That’s all you have to do to become a mental health promoter.

See? It’s not a big deal.

(And yet it totally is, you know?)

On the last day of class, we’d always end the way we began: With a few more rounds of “Never Have I Ever…”.

Over time, so many students requested fresh copies of the Pledge worksheet that I started handing them out as a little parting gift, to encourage their continued reflection and action-taking.

And semester after semester, students would contact me with updates on the actions they’d taken, the progress they’d made on their Pledge, and new ideas for prompts to include in my first-day-of-class activity.

(But…ice breakers are so POINTLESS!)

Never have I ever been so wrong.

 

 

Download your copy of the PLEDGE:

 

Download your copy of the PLANNER:

 


HI!  I’M MICHAELA. 

I help health + wellness professionals connect with their dream clients through genuine, engaging communication. After spending over a decade studying, researching, and teaching psychology + communication principles, I started this business to empower health + wellness professionals like me to “preach what you practice”. I share practical guidance so you can get clear on your unique value, communicate it with heart, attract + serve the people you love working with most… and actually have fun along the way.

8 Comments
  1. Alyssa says:

    I love this so much! It’s always great to have a reminder to challenge the “norm” as well as your own thoughts! And, Nina & Casey, right there with you ladies. “Other people have it so much worse…” “Just shake it off!” “You have such a good life.” Oh, man… 🙂

    1. Michaela @ Wild & Precious says:

      Totally, Alyssa. A student of mine once shared the saying, “Telling someone not to be sad because others have it worse is like telling someone not to be happy because others have it better.” Such a good reminder, and I try to remember it any time I’m tempted to offer a shallow consolation to someone who’s hurting. Thank you for reading!

  2. Nina says:

    I enjoy this. The mental illness stigma has lessened and it makes me happy. I have anxiety and I’m tired of people telling me to “stop worrying” like it’s going to cure me. More people have it then say and that saddens me. Thanks for helping to stop the stigma!

    1. Michaela @ Wild & Precious says:

      I’m with you, Nina: Even when we mean well, those kinds of comments are invalidating and just plain hurtful. Thank you for reading!

  3. Casey the College Celiac says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the phrase “health is more than the absence of illness.” My sister has general anxiety disorder, and it’s so frustrating for people to look down on her or bully her for something that she can’t control. Meanwhile, I have two chronic illnesses – so if health really was the absence of illness, I might as well just give up trying, right? Thanks for raising awareness!

    1. Michaela @ Wild & Precious says:

      YES, Casey! I love that phrase, too, and once I started viewing health in these terms, it fundamentally changed the way I approached my own health AND the way I care for others, both personally and professionally. Your sister is so fortunate to have you in her life. Thank you for reading!

  4. Becca says:

    My teen daughter has 2 best friends who struggle with mental illness. Different types though. She feels that she was put in their lives for a reason and I’m so proud of the friend she is!
    Awareness is so important!

    1. Michaela @ Wild & Precious says:

      Good for her! Simply showing up as a friend and support to those around us is one of the most influential roles we can play, I’m convinced. Thanks for reading, Becca!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

READY TO WRITE YOUR FIRST 50+ BLOG POSTS (FULL OF HEART + FREE OF STRESS)?

INSTANT FREE DOWNLOAD + WEEKLY(-ISH) COPYWRITING TIPS & RESOURCES FOR YOUR HEALTH + WELLNESS BUSINESS!

it's free!
100% Privacy Guaranteed.