As we learn more about taking care of our health we have come to realize that our health isn’t just our physical health but also our mental health.
Just as taking care of our physical bodies is important, so is taking care of our mental health. This disconnect, that has been prevalent for centuries, has kept us believing that one was more important than the other and one had nothing to do with the other. Previous generations have only considered mental illness as cause for any type of care or attention. Now we have a growing mass of research and evidence that is making it clear that our brains impact both our physical and mental health, and the state of our physical and mental health impacts our brains.
Debunking the old ways of thinking:
“But don’t only mentally ill people need therapy?” This used to be a common thought, but not only do we not treat mental illness as the negative thing that it once was, we are also starting to acknowledge how important it is for every person to take care of their mental health whether you have been diagnosed with something or not.
“If I go to a therapist does that mean I am mentally ill?” Nope – heck what does mentally ill really mean anymore? Going to therapy can be a remedy for things that have occurred in the past, but it can also be preventative care to protect your physical and mental health in the long run.
So, what would happen if we stopped using the term “mentally ill” and just used the term mental health? What if I told you it’s already happening?
I see this change happening every day. Individuals, with or without a diagnosis, are starting to refer to their mental health more and more. We are starting to understand that our brains need care and attention, without which we can get lost or overwhelmed by our thoughts and stresses of everyday life. These are the thoughts that are entirely informed by our past experiences. It is common to dismiss our pasts as irrelevant to our present day struggles, but if we think about it, how could that possibly be true?
When we are told to leave the past in the past, we can try, but there is nowhere to leave it, it is who we are. Without this understanding it can make it really difficult to make changes in our lives. Sometimes all it takes is understanding why we behave a certain way, grasping the idea that our struggles don’t mean there is something wrong with us, but rather an indication that something happened to us that we had to make sense of. If we understand what has happened and our response to it, we can work towards making our future affected by how we now see the past rather than how we originally responded to it.
Reframing our experiences can have a huge impact on how we move forward and therapy can help with that.