Yesterday I got a press request to do a news segment on stress because January is, apparently, Mental Wellness Awareness Month.
Did you roll your eyes? I did. But a quick google showed me it’s actually a thing and informed me that January is not only Mental Wellness Awareness Month, it’s two dozen other awareness months as well. Including but not limited to:
- National Blood Donor Month
- Cervical Health Awareness Month
- National Adopt a Rescued Bird Month (no thanks)
- National Hobby Month (what’s yours?)
- Walk Your Dog Month (are there months I don’t have to do that?)
- Veganuary (took me a minute also – and if you misread that you’re not alone)
I said yes to the press request, though, and not only because TV is a happy place for me. I said yes because, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we don’t really ever frame mental health in terms of wellness. We do talk about “mental health” a lot but what we really mean is mental illness or mental distress. We make an assumption that mental health is – at best – at a neutral baseline and can only go down from there.
What if we could actually improve our mental wellness to a point where we feel good – or even great – a lot of the time?
And we should. According to research published in Frontiers of Public Health, improving mental health from baseline up to wellness increases metrics from workplace innovation and productivity to national wellbeing.
So how does any one person (or workplace) build mental wellness? Step one is to understand where you are now. We can’t overcome a challenge until we name it, but mental wellness is not something we usually bother to evaluate. We just go on as we are because we think “it is what it is” or “I’m fine.”
It turns out, though, it’s worth paying attention to this indicator:
How mentally well are you feeling?
Comment and let me know, would you? Next week we’ll talk about what to do with that information. Today your job is just to ask and be brave enough to answer. And as always, if you or anyone you talk to is at risk of suicide, please immediately call for support: 988 from any phone.
All my best,