According to a study put out by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in February 2014, as many as 42.5 million adults in the United States alone suffer from some form of mental disorder, including conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. In July this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) also reported that the ratio of resources and mental health workers to patients was, on average, a staggering nine for every 100,000.
This September, Random Acts is tackling a tough subject once again with our monthly #GetKind theme, “Mental Health”. As the number of children, teens, and adults with mild to severe diagnoses continues to rise across the globe, the taboo nature that once accompanied society’s willingness to speak out about mental health concerns has thankfully begun to break down, however slowly. As such, this month, rather than challenging our followers to simply perform random acts of kindness within their neighborhoods, we’re asking for a bit more in order to help that process along.
How Can I #GetKind For Mental Health?
Throughout the month of September, we’re encouraging you to get out and find ways to open up a dialogue concerning the topic of mental health. And while most of us don’t profess any medical expertise on the matter, there are still a few things we can suggest that will help you jumpstart that conversation in your community.
- Educate yourself first. Whether you live with a condition yourself or know someone who does, learning about that particular condition can help ease some of the stigma associated with obtaining the appropriate treatment for it. Contact an organization that deals with mental health concerns so that you’re better able to lend support if need be.
- Offer an ear. Friends and family can often feel isolated by their condition. Spend some time listening to them and give them a safe space to vent when they need it.
- Hold someone’s hand. Random Acts Act Proposals Officer Sarah Cavanagh, a clinical psychologist who has been working in the field for ten years, explains: “We all have mental health just like we have physical health and that mental health can go up and down, sometimes depending on what’s happening with our lives.” Don’t forget that situations and outside influences change the lives of those we love. Be aware of those who have been affected by crisis and lend a kind hand to hold when needed.
- Help a mom (or dad)! We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: New mothers are often forgotten in all the excitement surrounding their new bundle of joy. Postpartum depression affects about 13% of moms in the U.S. alone, so while they receive treatment from their doctor, remember that you can give support whenever possible. Fathers too, can feel overwhelmed by the sudden stress of raising a child and having to provide for a tiny, crying human 24/7. Cook a meal or two or offer to babysit their little one so they can get some much- needed rest.
- Support those who support others. Caretakers, nurses, doctors, medical assistants, animal caregivers, and corresponding administrative staff spend long hours on their feet, providing assistance to others. Social workers, firefighters, EMT’s, and emergency response teams also make a habit out of expending themselves both physically and mentally in the service of others. All of them can develop compassion fatigue. Try to take a bit of weight off of their shoulders if you can by acknowledging all the hard work that they do and asking them what they need in return.
- Make someone smile. It’s hard to know just what sort of troubles others have run across in their lives. Make someone’s day a little brighter by leaving an anonymous, kind note where you know someone will find it, or by passing out flowers to strangers. Sometimes the smallest acts have the biggest impact.
- Be good to yourself. With all the things going on at work, at home, or at school, trying to find time to plan a kindness project for someone else can be a bit draining. And if you’re not properly taking care of you, you likely won’t be able to take care of others. Find a way to decompress: Take a relaxing bath, spend time with close friends or family, schedule an appointment to talk with your school counselor or personal therapist if you’ve been holding off, or treat yourself to your favorite food, movie, or book. You deserve it, after all.
- Donate to a charity that supports mental health awareness. By now, most of you have heard of our friend Jared Padalecki’s #AlwaysKeepFighting campaign, as well as a variety of other amazing projects and nonprofits whose main goal is to help lend support to those dealing with various mental disorders or health conditions. Find a cause if you haven’t already and make a donation in someone’s name (even if that name happens to be your own).
We’re all for kindness here at Random Acts. But in order for that kindness to take hold, we need to make sure that the world is looked after first. This month, we hope you’ll join us in making mental health a global priority. Let’s #GetKind.