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OPINION: When it’s not okay, normalizing mental health

By Chelsea Tyler

When life gets hard, seeing help for mental health is important. (Photo by Christian Herrera)

When life gets hard, seeing help for mental health is important. (Photo by Christian Herrera)

It’s okay to not be okay.

Those are six words that are simple enough to say, but much more difficult to believe. Last semester, it took me what seemed like an impossibly long time to comprehend that statement and accept it as truth. Mentally, I wasn’t in a good place for a few months and kept trying to convince myself and everyone else that I was fine.

I wasn’t fine, not at all, and when I eventually broke down and told a couple close friends what was happening in my mind, the relief I felt was overwhelming. When I accepted that it was perfectly okay to not be okay, I allowed myself to go through a healing process, one that eventually brought restoration to my heart and mind.

Mental health is often overlooked but is so important. Life can get pretty messy, and things can hurt. Instead of talking about our problems, we tend to push them aside and pretend that our life peachy keen. There’s a stigma around counseling and therapy that isn’t right. People assume that these sessions are only for “real problems” or people who are seriously messed up, and admitting you aren’t okay is a sign of weakness.

But aren’t we all a little messed up on the inside? Talking about these things that bother us won’t make our problems go away, but it can help us not feel completely isolated and alone.

There shouldn’t be shame in admitting that we aren’t mentally doing well. We shouldn’t be ashamed that we struggle with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder or another mental disorder. Nobody wants to be inflicted with any of these things, but they can happen to anyone.

Opening up to people about our problems is hard. Fortunately, there are a lot of people at this university that genuinely care about our well-being, mental health included. There are students, professors, counselors and administrators who always have open ears and want to help us get better. I think we should take advantage of that.

I’m not saying that we should confess our deepest, most painful secrets and struggles to everyone, but I urge people to find at least one person they trust enough to let them know what’s really going on inside their head.

Once you lose the fear of being vulnerable, you’d be amazed at how impactful a little encouragement and prayer from someone you trust can be.

Just remember — it’s okay to not be okay.

Chelsea Tyler is a communication studies major. This opinion reflects the views of the author only.

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