It’s time to end the mental health stigma

There’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it. Over the past year and a half, many of us have adapted to working from home, cancelled travel plans to visit friends and family, and had to give up some of our favorite pastimes in order to enforce social distancing and prevent the spread of the virus. 

Our Mental Health Index reports that, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been staggering increases in stress and anxiety levels, and an elevated risk of mental health conditions like PTSD and depression. Having limited interactions with others, many of us are now feeling the effects of being isolated and lonely for so long. Even as businesses begin to reopen and guidelines are lifted, the fear and anxiety instilled in us due to the COVID-19 virus isn’t going to vanish any time soon.

These sudden changes, thought only to be temporary, have become permanent parts of our lives and for many of us, it’s negatively affecting our mental health. We’re here to tell you that this is normal. That’s why for World Mental Health Day 2021, Total Brain is committed to ending the mental health stigma and raising awareness so that all who may need help aren’t afraid to receive it.

Addressing the mental health crisis

Did you know that one in every five people suffers from a mental condition? Even more alarming is the fact that 59 percent of those people never seek out help due to lack of awareness, fear of discrimination, and self-stigma. Left untreated, a mental health condition can lead to more serious concerns like addiction and suicide, but it can also impact those around us, creating tension, uncertainty, stress, and sometimes significant changes in how our friends and family carry out their lives.

Everyone can feel overwhelmed, confused, or experience anger, grief, or guilt. Addressing the topic of mental health with friends and family can be challenging, but if you believe someone you care about is struggling with their mental health, know that you can help by showing your support.

Let's end the mental health stigma together

When we think of someone with a mental health condition, what we imagine is often wrong. This is how stereotypes take root and encourage people to hide their struggles for fear of not seeming "normal." These judgments stem from a lack of understanding, and will continue to persist unless we end the stigma by accepting the truth. Not all mental health conditions are the same. In fact, you may not even know if someone is suffering from a mental health condition. 

Feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed is normal, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about. 

Total Brain invites you to join us this World Mental Health Day on our mission to end the mental health stigma by sharing your story about what your normal really is.

"PTSD can be defined rather simply: it is about being at the wrong place at the wrong time. For me, that place and time was Rwanda, for the whole year-and-a-half leading to the 1994 Genocide. One must note that this traumatic period of my life was, weirdly enough, also a time for some of the most beautiful moments I have ever lived. Nonetheless, it took me 25+ years to control my inner-feelings of utter sadness and despair each time I heard what could be interpreted as a gunshot, explosion or a barricade. Join me in sharing your story." -Louis G.

"I’m a husband. I’m the father of 2 beautiful daughters. I’m an aspiring singer/songwriter. I’m the CMO of a publicly traded company. And I have anxiety. For me, it started with a life event. After 20 years and a successful career at the same company, it was acquired. Seemingly overnight I went from feeling like a rock star to feeling like an outcast when my friends and colleagues were dismissed. Left untreated my stress and anxiety began to spiral. Finally, knowing something had to give, I sought help. Now, three years into a job as CMO at a mental health and brain performance company, I have a deeper understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. I know how to control my anxiety, and even channel it to my advantage." -Matt R.

"This is the face of stress - within a household of 2 working parents, 3 teenagers and 2 dogs. I manage our company revenue - and our home budget. I always want to help everyone and hate letting people down. I have taken calls for complex business deals from both soccer and lacrosse fields. I have misplaced stress from work onto my family, and from my family onto my work. I encourage others to care for themselves, but I often neglect my own self-care. I’ve been known to sneak away for a quick cry in the bathroom just to release my stress - and even then I typically have a dog burst through the door to join me." -Melissa F.

"This is the face of depression and anxiety. This is the face of someone who gets panic attacks without a bit of warning. This is someone who may sound happy on one end of the line, but is sad on the other. This is me. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes, and it’s okay to talk about mental health. I am proud to fight the stigma, will you join me?" -Alex S.

"Tears streaming down my face, trying to catch my breath, while working in the checkout lane of a local grocery store. I was having a panic attack and the manager on duty wouldn't let me go to the breakroom. About 3 customers later, a kind woman looked me in the eye and asked if I was okay. I said, I'm trying. She walked over to the manager and told him, 'You need to let this lady go to the breakroom and have a moment.' He took my place at the register and I was allowed 10 minutes to go splash water on my face and 'pull myself together'. Most people have struggles; sometimes struggles that nobody else knows about." -Leslie D.

“Recently, I have spent both my professional and personal life digging into the science of how we show up every day and what drives our actions. This last year really kicked most of us in the butt and made many of us realize that this is hard. I never really understood how much stress and anxiety I had until I took the time to understand what that really meant and how it affects my head and my body. So, this is the face of stress and anxiety. Join me in sharing your story.” - Matt M.

"People say that anxiety can be brought on by worrying about the future. I struggle with those thoughts on a daily basis because there is no shortage of uncertainty in today’s fast-paced and click-driven world. It almost feels normal to be anxious." -Brain I.

"Being a child of divorce I have always suffered with fears of abandonment. My life often felt unsettled, like the things I cared about could at any moment be ripped away from me, even though I knew I was safe and loved. Through these past 17 years, I've learned to smile, to mask, to sculpt the illusion of myself that I wished I could be. My experiences may be unique to me - but my conditions are not." -Mariah F.

"I am here to be a living testimony to those who struggle with their mental health. I have struggled with mental health for years and it is not until recently I realized these feelings are normal and it is okay to reach out for help. Many of us are taught that our mental health is a weakness. It's time to break the stereotypes that define mental health. It's okay not to be okay and it's okay to ask for help when you need it." -Kate F.

"I’m a CEO who hid his therapy and medication from his employer and friends for years. I understand the fear of career impact. I understand stigma. I’m a CEO who finally spoke up and saw the struggle turn to strength and connection." - Daryl T.

"I’m a leader who was ashamed of being “weak”; therefore, I hid my vulnerabilities. I am a leader that needed to be led. But was too afraid to share, until I did, and received the help I desperately needed. I understand the fear of career impact. I understand stigma. Little did I know it would help me to understand how low someone can become, so that maybe, just maybe, I can sit there with them and help them up." - Eliezer N. 

There are just a few of the stories people have shared with us. Mental health struggles are common, and many of us are more at risk than we think. We invite you to share your #thisisnormal story on social. Help us raise awareness to let everyone know that the feeling is normal, but the way we show it is not. Challenge others to do the same. Total Brain will donate $5 to One Mind for each of the first 1,000 people who participate!

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