Every year almost 1 in 5 (around 42.5 million) American adults suffer from some sort of mental health issue, including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. This is a scarily large figure, which only becomes more scary when you realize that it doesn’t take into account the huge numbers of cases of mental health issues within teenagers and younger children too. This large figure means that, although there are a lot of people suffering from mental health issues, there are also a lot of people that are suffering or have suffered, and want to use their experiences with mental health to help others. If you have suffered from a mental health issue, you will be able to better understand the person whom you are trying to help – You can also share your own experiences, so they don’t feel alone. Many people do this, and I have listed a few different ways in which you too can take your experience with mental health to help others. Of course, none of these options are a replacement of professional help, they are simply others forms of support, and forms that often help a person to realize that something may be wrong, and that they may need professional help.
If you are still of school or college age, then mentoring might be a good option for you. It allows you to engage one on one with people the same age as or a little bit younger than you and provide them support and guidance. Most people, when they first realize that something may be wrong with them do one of two things – They either search for their symptoms online or talk to a friend. As we all know, Googling symptoms is never a good idea, as it always says somewhere down the line that you’re dying of some rare disease that you don’t even find in your country. Talking to a friend, however, that is helpful. Friends are there to provide you emotional support, so are often the first people you tell about a mental health issue, even before family. However, some people may feel as though they don’t have a friend they can truly trust, and confide in, which is why peer-to-peer mentoring is such a good idea – It provides you with a confidant, who you can trust to listen to you and try to help you if they can.
Blogging can assist you in helping others on a much wider scale than one to one mentoring. Depending on your experiences, you can write about a range of topics from self-help and techniques on coping with stress, to any medication you may be taking. Many people with mental health issues feel completely alone, but simply sharing your experiences can change that, and help them have a much more positive view of themselves. Blogging allows you the option to remain anonymous, and with plenty of useful tools and websites online, setting up a blog nowadays is relatively easy, so there’s absolutely no reason why this couldn’t be an option for you.
In the past few years watching your favorite channels on YouTube seems to be more popular than watching your favorite channels on an actual television, so if you wanted to aim your support and guidance at younger adults and teenagers, vlogging is a brilliant idea. There are many wonderful YouTube channels based solely on mental health, which have videos based on the suggested topics of blog posts from above. Many of the bigger YouTubers, such as Zoella and JackGap, also use their channels as a platform to talk about their own experiences with their mental health. This allows young people with mental health issues to feel more ‘normal’, by knowing that their favorite YouTube star also suffers from the same things as they do. There are many helpful guides online that explain to you how to set up a YouTube channel, which can make the whole process a lot easier – All you need now is a camera.
Become A Therapist
A therapist is a mental health professional, who assists their patients in reducing their symptoms of mental illness, by improving their emotional and cognitive skills, and teaching them how to cope with various challenges from everyday life. Granted, this isn’t the easiest way to share your experiences concerning mental health, and it certainly takes a lot of dedication, but if it’s what you want to do, then it is definitely possible. By taking an online psychology degree, you can study and get the qualifications you need to commence in higher education, while still having the time to hold down a full-time job.
Join A Therapy Group
If you don’t want to become a therapist yourself, joining a therapy group is another great way to share your experiences with mental health. Not only will it help you, as you can share you problems, hear others advice, and hear other people’s own experiences, but you can also help out other in the group in the same way. This is a lot like mentoring, except it’s not on a one to one basis, which in the long run might be better for some people – It provides you with a group of people who understand you, rather than just one, which could provide you with a sense of belonging.
All of these are great ways of using your own experiences with mental health to help others. Many of them could also help you improve your own mental health at the same time, as they provide you with an audience to which you can let out any feelings and emotions that you may have been keeping bottled up. However, you must always remember that, although you may want to help people, and although you may have in-depth experience of your own mental health problems, unless you do train to become a therapist, you are not a professional. You can certainly provide advice and support, but you need to know when to let a person know that you are out of your depth and that they need to speak to a professional.
Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.