Let’s Normalize Mental Health

Baird Weisleder

I recently shared a post updating friends on social media about my 20-year-old son’s recovery from a fatal car accident he survived. I am sure most of you are familiar with our story. Of course, I asked my son if it was ok to share that he was having some trouble with his mental health. I had been updating friends and family since February about his ongoing health journey. It was the easiest way to keep people posted. I got a couple of questions from caring friends wondering if I had gotten permission from my son to share his status. I never would have posted without it. But here is what is interesting, today’s generation talks quite freely about their mental health. This is a generalization I realize, but I have done fairs at colleges for suicide prevention where kids come right up for information and resources and tell us about their experiences with mental health. After my son’s accident counseling resources were immediately set up for anyone who was interested at his school to come talk about their mental health. So many kids participated, some for the first time. Many are still going.

After losing my brother to suicide, I vowed to speak up. I have found it doesn’t make most people uncomfortable. Most times, people tell me their stories or a loved one or friend who is struggling and often I can share resources. People thank me all the time for sharing my family’s story. That makes me feel proud. This is the way it should be. Mental health should be just as important as physical health. We should not fear stigma or judgement for talking about it. The more we share the more it is normalized. I personally think everyone should try therapy. It is self-care.

I was overwhelmed with the supportive comments I got after my social media post about my son. Like I said then, there is no shame in our game. If you need therapy or a medication to help with your mental health, you should do it. I know there are anti med folks out there but for some people it is necessary and helps tremendously. You may have to try a few to find what works and you may find they do not work for you. Always, do this under a doctor’s supervision.

I hope this young generation coming behind me decide to go into the psychiatric medical field or seek out counseling or nursing positions. It is so needed. The mental health care system is still quite broken and wait times are ridiculous in most instances but finding the right therapist or psychiatrist can be life changing.

I challenge you to start a conversation with your family, especially the teens and young adults in your family. I bet they will be more open than you think.