While it's a personal responsibility to learn more about mental health issues, here are a few things we should normalize about mental health, especially in Africa.
Holding safe space for people
When someone tells you they are going through something, you don’t need to mention that someone else has it worse.
It’s unfortunate that most times someone will talk about something, and the other person will remind them to be grateful because they have good health, food, shelter, and whatnot.
What people need to understand is that, when someone is going through something, that doesn’t mean they are not grateful. It just means they don’t want to live in the pain they are experiencing.
Let’s normalize listening to people without comparing their situation to someone else. We need to hold a safe space for each other and acknowledge other people’s journeys without invalidating them.
In an age where everything is moving so fast and people are spending lots of time on their gadgets, we need to make more time and have conversations with people.
And this isn’t about having surface-level conversations. We need to ask how people are doing, emotionally and mentally. We need to ask if they are doing okay. Sometimes, it’s just reminding them that you love them and are there for them in case they need someone to talk to.
Being happy on the outside doesn’t mean someone is happy and okay on the inside. Check up on your strong and happy friends, things aren’t always what they look like.
We still live in a society where the majority of people think therapy is for broken people, people who are struggling with their mental health and people who don’t have their affairs in order.
Truth is, everyone - no matter the state of their mental wellbeing - can benefit from therapy.
Therapy will make you aware of the pain, trauma, and sorrow you have been dealing with. It will also help you realize the weight that belongs to you and the one that doesn’t. This way, you won’t project your fear and insecurities onto other people.
The goal of therapy is to equip a person with coping skills and it can also improve on what is already working.
It’s okay to have mental health issues
Some people believe that mental illness or disorders are demonic. Others believe that people who experience them are weak.
The truth is, anyone can suffer from depression, anxiety, and any other mental health issue. It affects the young and the old, the weak and the strong. No one is safe, we are all a few minutes or a few days away from having a mental breakdown and the majority of people have not been taught how to handle stressful life situations.
You are not a lesser human being for not being okay. It’s okay to go through the pits, the most important thing is realizing you are not okay and finding a way to get back to yourself. The biggest battle is winning against your mind because sometimes the mind will play tricks on you. Don’t believe everything you think.
We are always talking about mental health but rarely do we talk about being kind to each other.
At times, people are pushed into depression by cruelty, emotional, verbal, and sometimes physical abuse. Let's normalize speaking life to people.
Let’s also normalize taking care of each other, lifting each other up, smiling, complimenting, and greeting people. It’s the small things that matter. That text, that smile can make someone’s day and give them a reason to keep living, you never know. Let’s be our brother’s keeper.