#BeWell: Advancing the Mental Health Movement
Language is one of the most powerful tools we have to change culture. It frames our thinking; it frames the way we understand each other, and most importantly it allows us to communicate our feelings. Language can also be a barrier. Consider how we talk about health. In a perfect world, health would be all encompassing; it would include our mental health, our social health, and our spiritual health. But due to a history and culture that has often relegated these pieces into their own silo, we are left to use these words independent of each other, which trains us to think about total health in a way that’s fractured and often misleading. Our language unintentionally fragments who we are.
And our health care systems have followed suit.
Health care is fragmented, and all the systems need to be better aligned to the needs of our community. The treatment of mental health is still inconsistent, and the effects and prevalence of mental health issues are disparately felt in our communities. To foster mental well-being across the nation, in face of all the obstacles, we need to incite a cultural change. This change in culture begins with our language and with our push to open the dialogue; it is an idea at the core of the #BeWell social movement, and it all begins with our willingness to have a conversation about mental health.
Well Being Trust, a national foundation committed to being a leader in the intersection of mental health and wellness, believes that starting an honest conversation begins with the willingness to share. The conversation we want to begin isn’t just in the abstract. No, we want to normalize the way we talk about mental health so that we can openly share about it as we do any other aspect of our health. Let’s speak as plainly about anxiety as we speak about sore backs, and depression as plainly as broken bones. Let’s speak about our minds as readily as any other part of the body.
How do these discussions get started? Sometimes the small ways are best. Come online to join the conversation and #BeWell.
For a minute, let’s consider the critical importance of this conversation. This isn’t a conversation we can afford to postpone any longer. One in five Americans suffer from mental health issues in a given year, and most of these people do not receive the care they need. In direct cost of care and loss of productivity, mental health issues cost our society over $400 billion dollars annually. And then there is the cost in human lives. Every day and average of 91 people die of a drug overdose. Every day an average 3,740 teenagers, between the grade of 9-12, attempt suicide. We have seen a 25% increase in suicide the last 15 years.
By every numerical measure, the cost is unacceptable, unimaginable, and we must do better. We need to demand more. We need to elevate the dialogue highlighting the problem but also noting the solutions.
And while many of these costs we can measure, there are other costs too remote for numbers to reach. There are all the moments of joy and peace that never had the chance to enter our lives. There are things we might have done, or seen, and people we might have loved, or loved better. As long as shame, social disapproval (read stigma), and barriers to access keep us from seeking and receiving care, we won’t realize the fullness of our human potential; we will struggle to obtain wellness.
Even as alarming as the numbers are, they are hardly necessary to illustrate what we can see with our own eyes. Mental health issues touch all of our lives, either directly or indirectly, sooner or later. It is a piece of health that we have too long ignored. For most of us, it has already shown up at our doors and called our names, or it has called the names of the people we care about.
Now it is time for us to do something about it. And today, yes today, the conversation begins with you.
Tomorrow, let’s allow the conversation to extend into our cars, our cafes, our communities, and eventually our Congress. Let’s spark the movement with our words, let’s advance a collective understanding of change.
We’ve partnered with a number of influencers who feel just as strongly about the importance of this movement as we do. Lend your voice to the conversation, and join Ryan Seacrest, Big Boy, Nina Chantele, JoJo Wright, Greg Oden, Keke Palmer, Abby Wambach, Freddie Gibbs, and many others in the #BeWell movement. Share your experiences with mental health on social media, using the hashtags #BeWell or #BeHeard.
Tell us how you strive to #BeWell. Share when you need to #BeHeard. Help us normalize the conversation about mental health, and end the stigma.
Remember, language changes culture. Let’s create a culture of whole health where mental health is just another piece of good health and wellness.
It’s time to come together and #BeWell.