Other people are going to TELL you you “should” prioritize your mental health…then turn around and shame you for, you know, prioritizing your mental health. 

That’s not you being crazy. It happens. 

Most people know that they’re “supposed” to tell others to prioritize mental health. 

We’ve all been told to “take the time we need” to handle a loss. 

We’ve all been told to engage in “self care.” 

We’ve all been told to “be kind to ourselves.” 

But many people reading this are very familiar with what often comes AFTER we’ve been told these things: we get pressure to pretend that whatever loss, stressor, or mental health issue that we were struggling with, is no longer affecting us. 

It’s as if some people expect a mental health issue to go away because they’ve said the right thing. 

Many people reading this have had the experience of their company or organization giving lip service to prioritizing mental health— but then, instead of taking concrete steps like adjusting employee workload, requiring their employees to complete “wellness trainings.” 

The “wellness training” that compensates for inadequate rest, recovery, and recreation time does not exist. 

Many people reading this have struggled with the contradictory messages sent by our culture about acknowledging or talking about mental health struggles. 

On the one hand, we are told over and over again that we MUST combat the “stigma” of mental health. 

On the other hand, when a tragedy happens that involves human on human violence, a subset of people IMMEDIATELY start talking about the “mental health” of the perpetrator. 

People who discuss their emotional and behavioral struggles publicly are never quite sure if they’re going to be validated for sharing their experience— or considered “damaged.” 

You are not crazy and you are not imagining the very mixed messages that are sent to those who struggle with mental and behavioral health issues every day. It’s real. 

And somehow, in the midst of all of this, we’re supposed to carve out a recovery for ourselves that is realistic and sustainable. 

We’re expected and told to ask for help if we need it— even though we KNOW that getting compassionate, relevant assistance with mental or behavioral health issues is VERY much not a given in our culture. 

It’s real important to know and remember that the attitudes and messages about mental and behavioral health that are swirling around out there have virtually nothing to do with YOU. 

People and organizations have ideas about the CONCEPT of mental and behavioral health and illness. 

But those CONCEPTS are abstract. They’re so abstract that they’re almost caricatures. 

Anyone who has sat through a corporate “wellness seminar” about mental or behavioral health issues knows that the content has almost nothing to do with real human beings who are actually struggling with mental or behavioral issues. 

Don’t mistake the conversations that happen in the culture about mental and behavioral wellness as having anything to do with your story, your recovery, or your needs. 

Your job remains the same: identify what’s on your plate and what you need today. 

Identify and do the next right thing. 

Stay as stable as you can with the tools and skills you have. Identify the obstacles you can see and strategize with your support system how to handle them. 

Don’t let the culture’s attitudes about mental and behavioral health get in YOUR head. 

You stay on target. 

One thought on “YOU are NOT your company’s or culture’s attitude about mental health.

  1. So true…it’s really been a mindf*ck to see the hypocrisy in this. My entire life (58 now) I was a bubbly, gregarious persona, thought I had transcended a lot of neglect abuse stuff by just plunging into life and being productive…then about five years ago a lot of stuff hit the fan, kinda a perfect storm of imploding environmental elements, which triggered a lot of stuff from early on that I thought I had moved way beyond, and I just fell. Hard. Living in a new city, where ppl had only known me a few years as my bubbly self, when I fell ppl kinda moved back a few steps, even though I tried to explain the change briefly and that I had just received several blows and was down on the ground, but I’d get thru it…Ppl still moved back a few steps instead of supporting. Kinda shocking, and that made the trauma/drama even worse. WTF is wrong with ppl? Spout mental health awareness and support, yet abandon ppl that cannot muster up social butterfly energy for awhile. It’s been a bit of a mind-bender to see what happens when you absolutely cannot fake being okay anymore. Thanks for the inspiring insights on this. It really is a big issue. Great essay.


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