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2021: The Year of Counseling
In 2021, we're starting (or continuing) counseling y'all!
In some way, shape or form, please commit to talking out and working through your ever-changing mental health.
This year rocked us emotionally world-wide -- and by us, I mean ALL of us. We lost loved ones and sources of income. We were furloughed and sent home. We have been trying to work and teach our children at the same damn time. We have been trying to stay sane and entertained from our living rooms alone while watching others galivant the world like we are not in the middle of an international public health crisis.
All of it has been a wild ride. Many did not make it. From COVID-19 to suicide, external factors are wiping out our brothers and sisters.
The old adage -- "put your oxygen mask on first before helping others" -- may seem harsh, but nonetheless, it applies here.
We HAVE to take INTENTIONAL steps to care for OUR OWN mental health. It is an absolute must.
Somewhere along the way, society taught us that tending our emotional health is a sign of weakness. Maybe it started with the "big girls/boys don't cry" remarks that were supposed to be comforting and encouraging after falling off a bike and looking down at a bloody leg.
No tears. Suck it up.
Nahhhh. I'm crying because it hurt.
If I'm tired, I'm taking a nap (at 35).
If I need a shoulder to cry on, I'm reaching out.
Even if I have a great idea that is giving me life (e.g. Mahogany Manifesto), I'm still connecting with my counselor so that we can discuss how such an endeavor plays into the goals I shared with them and may have forgotten about.
People who commit to doing the heavy lifting all alone when they don't have to need to apply some logic and split the load.
To be sure, we cannot truly divvy out our mental health, but we can enlist assistance. That's why I'm calling 2021 "The Year of Counseling." If you already have a counselor, great! Keep going. If you've been seeing the same person for a while now, maybe you can switch it up and try someone new. If you are not talking to someone on a regular basis, please start.
The American Psychology Association has warned that 2020 unearthed a growing mental health crisis (citation). Part of the solution, however, is in our hands.
Seek and Find
Like many other goals, the first step toward progress is asking for guidance.
Ask friends and family for referrals. If you have insurance, find out how to access a list of covered providers and do your research. I am a huge proponent of making full use of Employee Assistance Programs. If you are new to counseling, this is a great way to start. Connect with your HR department to learn about EAP and other options.
If you are out of work or don't have an insurance plan that will cover counseling, seek free help. Give an Hour maintains a list of mental health crisis helplines. Click here to check it out. State and local public health offices can point you in the right direction.
If you truly have run out of options, online resources abound.
- National Institute of Mental Health
- 80 Awesome Mental Health Resources When You Can’t Afford a Therapist
Healthline (GREAT overview)
Emotional Wellness Habits
Even if you have the greatest counselor in the world, you still have to sustain the exploration through daily work. Here are several practices that help boost your mental wellbeing:
If nothing else, carve out a few minutes a day to participate in one of the activities noted above. Use The Daily Manifesto for its built-in reminders to invest energy into your emotional health.
Find a counselor.