Promoting student mental health and our own self care

Resilience can be practiced through reframing the stigma of mental health

May is mental health awareness month. As our school becomes more trauma informed, we are getting better at recognizing when trauma and mental health correlate to student difficulties and secondary traumatic stress for staff. For a balanced perspective about resilience, hope, and healing, please check out the message below written by Marissa Hughes on how we can view someone as a whole person without letting mental health overshadow the rest of their attributes and strengths.

"We are whole. We are diverse. We are unique. While mental health issues can feel like they take over a large part of your existence, especially when they are more present than not, they are still not all of you. You are still a daughter, a son, a mother, a father, a wife, a husband, a partner, a parent, a sibling, a cousin, a friend, a person.

While on the surface this may sound like just semantics, it is so much deeper than that. So often we define ourselves by the things that have happened in our lives, by the issues we face, the job we have, the way we look. But what if we look deeper than that? What if we are more than a label? Ultimately the interpretation is up to us, so why limit ourselves, or place judgement on ourselves based on one part of a whole?

For some, a diagnosis of mental illness can be a relief, an explanation as to why we feel the way we do. A comfort in knowing that we are not alone, that there is a definition to what we are experiencing. But to others, this becomes a definition of the whole self. Some may lose their sense of identity in this label, forgetting that they are made up of so many intricate parts that make them beautifully whole.

The choice of how you define yourself is up to you. You can choose to recognize your mental health issues as a part of you, rather than all of you. You can be more than your struggles. You can choose to view your challenges as what makes you strong and resilient. The next time you hear someone define you or someone else as anything with an "ic" following the word (like bulimic or dyslexic) or a diagnosis in general, consider rephrasing this idea for them, as your words may be more impactful than you realize. You may be the first person to help them recognize that they are more than just their mental illness, they are whole, just as you are".

**For more positive inspiration follow for information about healing trauma, mental health awareness, and living a more meaningful life.