Did you know that one in five individuals will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lifetime? Because of the stigma and discrimination associate with mental illness, however, 75 per cent of those people will never seek the help they need.
Mental health awareness initiatives, such as the You Know Who I Am campaign run by The Royal and championed by Ottawa Senators NHL captain Daniel Alfredsson have done a lot in recent years to end the stigma associated with mental illness, which is a wonderful thing. But we still need to do more; more to help people who are suffering get the help they need, and more to take charge in maintaining and improving our own mental health in the first place.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this gives us a great opportunity to do what we can to shine a light into the dark corners of mental illness and to help make the world a better place for those in need, including ourselves. But why, do you ask, should any of us give a damn about mental health awareness? Because 20% of us will be personally affected by a mental illness at some point in our lives and the remaining 80% will be affected by mental illness in family members, friends or people we work with. Every single one of us is affected by mental illness, in one way or another.
But when we start talking about mental health, it's really about more than just treating, or even preventing mental illness. According to the World Health Organization mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness; in fact, mental health is so important the WHO flat out states that “there is no health without mental health”.
And the problem as I see it is, the more we focus on what we don’t want in our lives and in the world, the more we seem to attract those things to us and the worse they seem to get. Too often in our lives, we tend to get caught up in our responsibilities and the have to/ ought to/ should of things, and we give up on the things that make us happy because they are “frivolous” or we just don’t think we have time for them. We get caught up in mortgage payments, bills, economy woes, fear, hockey playoffs that don’t go the way we want them to, etc. And it becomes a vicious cycle of bad-to-worse feelings that do nothing good for either our mental or physical health.
Trying to find the good in life can be difficult when we’re conditioned to look out for the bad. We give up on happy because it’s just so much easier to focus on the negative things when we seem to be surrounded by them.
But what to do about it?
It's simple, really: Let's get happy.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if we stopped focusing on what’s wrong with the world and our own lives and started focusing on what’s right? What would happen if each of us stopped for even one minute every day and deliberately thought about what was going well? Do you think that maybe we’d start to build up some positive energy and maybe make the world a little bit of a better place? Or maybe even a lot better of a place?
And that’s the point of the 28 Day Happy Challenge: to increase the global “happy quotient” by starting small. Because I believe that mental health should be the responsibility of each and every one of us; because small things can make a big difference, and even the longest journey must begin from where you stand; and because I believe that the more happy people there are, the better our world will be. For all of us.
If you believe this, too, I challenge you to get the details and join the 28 Day Happy Challenge. Let’s do this, together.
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