Imagine a world where we can “call in sick” because our depression is worsening or because anxiety is peaking to a point of emotional and physical paralysis. A world where we can fearlessly acknowledge our mental health challenges and receive support rather than skepticism or judgment. In our society, we are afforded sick days to treat varying physical health conditions, but it is “invisible” pains that create hesitance.
Mental health stigma promotes a falsehood that proof is needed to justify anguish. This year more than ever is important for centering our mental health needs. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), nearly eight in 10 adults identified the coronavirus pandemic as a significant source of stress in their lives. Locally, we witness the daily weight of gun violence, poverty, systemic racism, and trauma. However, we can all contribute towards promoting mental wellness in big and small ways.
Each year, National Depression Screening Day provides an opportunity to break stigma and recognize mental wellness matters. Behavioral health partners offer multiple sites to receive free behavioral screenings along with valuable resources and the support of trained professionals. We can use Oct. 7 as an opportunity to take a behavioral health screening, reach out to loved ones, or normalize mental health challenges, whether someone else’s or, most importantly, our own.
Although this reflection highlights an annual opportunity, let’s strive to create these moments daily.
Author: Andrea October is the Trauma Resilience Training Coordinator at the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services. Her passion lies in addressing mental health stigma through providing education about the effects of trauma. She has a bachelor’s degree in Forensic Sociology from Rosemont College and is a PhD student at Bryn Mawr College.