Fifteen years ago, when I was just starting social work school, one of my professors recommended that we should all see a therapist, that we needed to know what it was like for our future clients, and maybe it would be good for us too. I was skeptical. I wasn’t going to be a clinician. I was there for policy work. I had yet to learn much about mental health. My crash course in serious mental illness, co-occurring substance use disorders, and the importance of behavioral health care was soon to come.
Since then, I have come to understand how important mental health care is to every one of us. Some of us will need to sit with someone to talk through life changes, career changes, relationship struggles, anxieties, loneliness, or sadness. Some of us will need a psychiatrist to help us figure out the right combination of medication and other services to manage our mood swings or the voices that we hear. Some of us will need inpatient treatment for an addiction to alcohol or painkillers. All of us need to feel comfortable and supported in pursuing the treatment and support that is right for achieving the wellness and recovery that we all desire and deserve.
I believe that we need to be able to talk about our own mental health care and that getting that care is evidence of our strength, resilience, and reality. I used to be skeptical of “therapy” but I am now proud and empowered to share my own experiences with my friends or family who I know could benefit from hearing that they are in good company. The shame and stigma around mental health treatment are still commonplace but is slowly but surely getting replaced by an understanding and sharing of experiences. We know from research that the best way to change people’s minds is to share a story. If it is a story of someone they are close to, it will be even more effective. Talking about our own mental health care can be one of those stories.
I was inspired to write this blog after seeing an Instagram post from one of my family member’s friends who has a small business in Central Florida, creating eco-friendly stationery and art prints. Her company is called Curated Dry Goods. She recently created greeting cards to celebrate mental health achievements. The cards included sayings, such as “In Therapy and Thriving,” “It’s Super You’re Sober,” and “I’m proud of you because you took your medication.”
Part of the proceeds from the sale of the cards benefits the Mental Health Association of Central Florida. I immediately ordered a set of cards and am looking forward to sending them to loved ones that I want to celebrate and support.
We are all so used to sending cards to celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings, and births. Let’s make it commonplace to celebrate our milestones in mental health.