It’s time to stop being afraid to talk about mental health

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There are going to be many well-deserved tributes to Robin Williams over the next few weeks. It would be too simplistic to say he was funny – he was unique, brilliant, quirky, and talented.

And he had problems with depression.

When someone strikes up the courage to admit that they’re depressed, the response they receive from some family members and friends is usually one of the following:

  • “Everybody feels that way sometimes. It’s normal.”
  • “Toughen up. Life is full of disappointments.”
  • “You want to see a therapist? You’re not crazy. What are people going to think of you if they find out you’re going to see a shrink?”

Here’s my typical rejoinder:

No. It’s not normal to be depressed.

No. It doesn’t mean you’re weak.

No. Seeing a therapist doesn’t mean you’re crazy.

Yet, the power of the stigma of having a therapist or a mental health issue becomes overpowering, and people who need help are too afraid or embarrassed to get it. I know people who should be in therapy but worry about what others will think. And I’ve faced the same battle with stigma myself.

If I haven’t made the message clear enough in all my posts, I’ll say it again:

Your mental health is crucial. The way you think and feel affects your every action and decision. Don’t take it lightly. When you have the flu or a cold, you go to a doctor. If you’re depressed, anxious, angry, stressed, worried, or simply feel like you’re not living life to the fullest, go to a therapist.

Go to a therapist.

Go to a therapist.

If you’re feeling suicidal:

  • In the United States, call 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
  • In Canada, the United States and internationally, visit the following site and follow the links to your country or area:
    http://www.befrienders.org
  • If you are unable to find resources on your own, see a physician or go to an emergency room – someone there should be able to refer you to someone who can help you. Do not suffer in silence.

If you want to take a mental health screening:

Check out Queendom’s Mental Health Assessment. It screens for the most common mental health issues, and it’s free.

If you need help finding a therapist:

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May you find peace wherever your journey takes you next, my dear Robin Williams.

Insightfully yours,

Queen D