Nearly 450 million people worldwide contend with mental health issues, and now with the current pandemic, it is more important than ever to practice mental health check-ins on yourself and your circle of loved ones.
According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, more than half of Americans are currently suffering mental health-related issues.[i]
Fortunately, awareness surrounding mental health conditions continues to grow. Even celebrities, musicians and organizations are now joining the conversation. HBO and NAMI have teamed up for their ‘It’s OK to not feel OK’ campaign. Michael Phelps can be found on Hulu promoting mental health counseling. The ‘Hi, How Are You Project’, which is inspired by singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston, was created to further education about mental health and wellbeing. The message is being said more frequently and reaching more people, and that most certainly helps.
So, how we contribute to help end the stigma around mental health?
One of my favorite messages, and probably the simplest, comes from the ‘Hi, How Are You Project’. We are constantly asking each other in passing, “How are you?” The problem is that the exchange is becoming automatic. “Fine” is a much easier response than admitting you’re having a hard time. What if instead we ask with compassion, and we give a truthful response? It sounds so simple, but because it leaves us feeling vulnerable, we take the easy way out.
My challenge to you is to practice kindness, ask questions, and listen. Engage in honest conversations with people you trust. So, next time you see someone who doesn’t look good, ask them: “How are you? Really, how are you?” and be prepared to actually listen to their response.
[i] economic and mental health impacts of coronavirus