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Palm Coast Friday, May 28, 2021 3 months ago

Stop the mental health stigma: How to build empathy in Flagler Schools

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
by: Guest Writer

by: Taurean Wilson

Flagler Schools mental health counselor

The month of May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month; this month we are focusing on reducing the mental health stigma.

It has been a tremendous journey this school year. I can attest for many it has been exhausting, exhilarating, confounding and breathtaking. It seems that this school year has taken its toll on all of us, causing us to experience many twists and turns and sometimes feeling like things are totally out of control, creating feelings of being lost and alone, stressed and overwhelmed.

These feelings alone can lead to many social stresses that can cause mental health issues, and you know what? That’s OK. Yes, it’s OK to have mental health issues.

Mental health is a human experience, and having a mental health issue is not a destination but a forward continuum with endless possibilities.

Here are some key ways to help reduce the stigma of mental health:

Educate yourself and others

  • Learn the impact of mental health and how to help those in need to access it and reduce the stigma associated with getting help.

Talk openly about mental health

  • Be honest and open about our pain and shortcomings instead of pretending that they do not exist.

Be conscious of language

  • Sometimes individuals keep feelings and emotions to themselves because they can’t find the language to describe it. Be careful to not use mental health issues as adjectives. I have a name and my issues do not identify me.

Encourage equality between physical and mental health

  • Your mental health is equally as important as your physical health. They impact one another: Poor mental health usually leads to poor physical health and vice versa.

Choose empowerment over shame

  • Let others know that "Impossible" is actually pronounced as "I’m possible." When you empower your mental health, you are empowering your total self.

Show compassion and empathy

  • The most powerful two words in the world are “me too.” Let others know that they are not alone.

Remember the old saying that April showers bring May flowers.

A period of discomfort can provide the basis for a period of happiness and joy. Always remember that it is OK to have storms and even dance in the rain, and know that after the rain the sun will always shine. When the sun shines, new beginnings occur. They become like the flowers we see in the May sunshine as they rise and blossom, giving us all the sweet-smelling fragrance of love, joy and happiness that you possess inside. 

Our goal this year is for the faculty, staff and students to have a 100% awareness about the mental health and social work support available on campus. If you are in need of services, please reach out to your guidance counselor or call the Student Community and Engagement office at 386-437-7526. We are here to support you during this time and throughout the school year. (During the summer, staff can point you in the right direction for counseling services with school partners.)

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