The importance of being honest about mental health
We all experience mental health challenges at different levels and different times. For some, mental illness is something they have lived with for much of their lives. Others may have never experienced mental health challenges. For this second group, it may be difficult to process new mental health issues when they first occur.
“If you have never struggled with mental health before, you might find yourself struggling now due to the events that have occurred over the last year,” says Melissa Sarnecki, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) for Centerstone. Stress about the virus, isolation, job loss, the political climate, E-Learning, racial injustice… the list goes on for new stressors we experience. People’s lives changed practically overnight, leaving room for increased mental health challenges. If you have been struggling but not seeking help, it’s time to be honest about your mental health.
Being honest with yourself
Being honest with yourself is the first step to improving your mental health. You have to admit to yourself that there is an issue before you can actually start working to make it better. “If you aren’t honest with yourself, the issues that you are having will likely only get worse,” says Melissa Sarnecki. “It takes a lot of strength to face your problems head on.”
To be honest, you have to be self-aware. Listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right within you, recognize that and ask yourself what’s going on. Watch your reactions to situations: Are you finding that small inconveniences drain your energy for the rest of the day? Have you felt hopeless, like nothing will ever change for the better? Have you felt anxious without being able to pinpoint why? These questions and more are important to help you understand that you might have a mental health challenge. Exercise this sort of mindfulness, and you will know yourself better.
Knowing yourself is one of the many benefits of self-honesty. “If you are honest with yourself, you can live authentically. You can live by your own values and beliefs, not just what you have learned from others,” says Melissa Sarnecki. Self-honesty also helps you to be honest with others, increasing your support.
Being honest with others
It can be difficult to be honest with your friend and family about mental health issues. The stigma surrounding mental health is so prevalent. Those close to you may not understand at first, and you may feel ashamed for having the problems in the first place. But don’t let that stop you. “It takes strength to admit you need help, and your loved ones will support you if they truly care about you,” says Melissa Sarnecki. “Reaching out to those close to you gives you a strong support system for daily life.”
If you seek help from a therapist, it is also crucial to be honest with them. Therapists can’t do all the work for you – healing takes you being open about your struggles so you can work through them. “Just be straightforward with them if you can,” says Melissa Sarnecki. “There probably isn’t anything that you could tell them that they haven’t heard before. The more open you are, the more they can help.”
The more honest you are in your life – with yourself, your family, your friends and your therapist – the better your mental health will be and the better you will cope with stress.
If the stress of the pandemic has you experiencing new mental health challenges, Centerstone is here to help. Call us at 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123) or visit centerstone.org/connect-with-us/ to get connected with care.