Mental Health Awareness: Focusing On Me

Mental health awareness month is in May and my overall health and well-being would not be where it is right now if I did not focus on my own mental health. It took me a very long time to seek therapy but once I did, it was the greatest decision I have made other than achieving an undetectable viral level.

Mental health awareness month highlights the importance of mental health and the issues that affect people in our community. This month educates community on how to promote mental wellness and how to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health.

I can speak from experience when I say that communities of color rarely talk about mental health or mental illness that may run within their family. In honor of mental health awareness month, I would like to share a few benefits of good mental health.

Reasons to focus on my mental health

If you continuously work on your mental health, then it can lead to reduced risk of depression. I am a strong believer in seeking therapy if you need to speak to someone. In the past I have seen a therapist to talk through the passing of my grandmother and the absence of my father. The body gets stronger the more you work out a specific muscle and that is the same for your mental state.

Another benefit of good mental health is an overall improved mood. I know there have been times when I felt that I always had an attitude or had a short temper. Something as simple as someone looking at me the wrong way would get me irritated. Seeking therapy can help you understand certain triggers and traumas from your past.

If you work on your mental health, it can also help improve your relationships in your life. If there are unresolved issues between you and your family then therapy might help you internalize those feelings and find ways to better communicate to one another.

Normalizing the mental health conversation

One major change in my life when I focused on my mental health was a decrease in my anxiety. I started to just let things happen on their own and talk myself through certain situations that I had no control over. I realized that isolating myself from people during my HIV diagnosis accounted for a lot of the way that I was feeling.

I now know that loneliness and social isolation can lead to mental health problems. I was dealing with my diagnosis and  the loss of my grandmother which felt very detrimental to me.

I continuously work towards a better mental state everyday by not only working on myself but by raising awareness to my community. I hope to continue to normalize the conversation of mental health within communities of color in the hopes of increasing knowledge and access to these important social services.

If we increase promotion of mental health awareness and reduce the overall stigma of mental health, I believe that together we can create a world that values both their mental and physical health equally.

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