The phrase is whispered, avoided, and sometimes altogether left out, and yet its impact is undeniable. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a staggering 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. However, what's even more concerning is that less than half of those diagnosed actually receive the treatment they need.
Beyond the burden of stigma and shame, there are significant financial obstacles and deficits among mental healthcare providers. Mark Rasenick, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine, highlights the ongoing struggle: "Insurers continue to find ways to limit mental health coverage. Funding for all basic research is pathetic, especially when it comes to the financial implications of disease. Neuroscience research, in particular, remains underfunded, and this problem is further magnified within the field of psychiatry."
In the face of these challenges, it's crucial that we explore tangible actions we can take to support those grappling with mental health issues. Whether it's ourselves, our loved ones, co-workers, or others within our communities, we all have a role to play.
From our research and Mental Health conversations we had with our Inclusivv members throughout May, here are some things Inclusivv suggests:
Don't hesitate to ask for help.
Whether your first step is to let a loved one know or to reach out specifically to a mental health specialist, never hesitate to ask for help.
Actively listen if someone reaches out.
Many of us are not mental health specialists; however, we might be turned to for help by family members or friends who are struggling. You don’t have to know the answers or have any solutions, but actively listening to a friend as they navigate a mental health issue can be a huge step towards reducing shame and stigma.
Advocate for Medicaid expansion in your state.
Did you know that “the federal-state Medicaid program is currently the largest source of financing for behavioral health services in the nation, covering over a quarter of all expenditures”? While this is good news for many who have access to the programs, not all states are covered.
Here’s a quick fact sheet to inform you of some key points to consider when advocating for Medicaid expansion in your state.
Knowing yourself and knowing when you need a break is crucial. Be prepared to set boundaries when it comes to work and personal relationships when you need some time to rest and recharge.
Take care of yourself.
Throughout the day, many of us forget to take a moment to check in with ourselves. Always take a moment in your day to make sure you’ve eaten, had some water, and planned some movement throughout the day. Getting good rest, healthy food, sufficient water, and exercise can assist in helping you work through mental health issues.
What Inclusivv members are saying about mental health
May this year, we had the privilege of hosting three impactful conversations with our Inclusivv members on the topic of Mental Health. These meaningful discussions brought together individuals from diverse backgrounds, fostering a space of openness, understanding, and shared experiences.
We reflected on our childhood experiences around mental health and expressed how difficult it can be to discuss the subject. We explored both how it feels to be the one reaching out for help and the one turned to for help. And we opened up about ourselves and our loved ones, providing a brave space to discuss mental health and the challenges we have all faced.
Here's what some of our members had to say about their takeaways from these meaningful conversations:
"Having lived in big cities all my life, I hadn't thought about the challenges of getting mental health care in rural areas and small towns. It's something I plan to look into further."
This eye-opening perspective highlighted the often-overlooked obstacles individuals face in accessing mental health care based on their geographic location. It inspired our members to explore ways to address these disparities and promote equitable access to mental health resources for all.
"I appreciate the safe space provided to discuss the topics. The Mental Health questions allowed each participant to open up and share personal thoughts and/or experiences."
The power of a safe and supportive environment was evident as our members expressed their gratitude for the space we created. By encouraging open dialogue, participants felt empowered to share their personal journeys, break down barriers, and contribute to a collective understanding of mental health.
"I live through this topic, so this experience made me feel less alone and made it easier to think about discussing it with people in the future."
The profound impact of shared experiences was palpable as one member reflected on feeling less isolated through this conversation. The sense of community and solidarity fostered during these discussions emboldened individuals to envision a future where discussing mental health becomes more accessible, normalized, and de-stigmatized.
These insights from our Inclusivv members reinforce the importance of creating brave spaces that bring people together for courageous conversations about mental health. We are grateful for their participation and look forward to continuing these dialogues, fostering empathy, and advocating for positive change.
If you'd like to come together with people across the world to have courageous conversations like this one every month, join our Inclusivv Membership today.
Mental Health Resources
We know reaching out to others can feel daunting, but mental health crises are not solved alone. If you or a loved one are going through challenging times, here are some additional resources: