Let’s Talk About Our Health – Our Physical and Our Brain Health
“When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.”
― Augusten Burroughs, American writer/author
That quote surely hits homes with many of us. Often, when someone talks about his/her ‘health’, he/she is referring to physical health. Maybe it’s a short-term illness like the flu or recovering from a minor procedure. Maybe it’s the big stuff, like a major surgery, or a chronic illness. When we don’t feel well, the rest of our daily lives can seem insignificant.
It’s not just physical health issues that can consume our thinking, it’s our brain health issues too. When we have anxiety, depression, or other brain health concerns, not much else may matter on a daily basis.
Mental Health Awareness Month is this month, and it has been happening every May for the last 74 years. Let’s continue to talk about our health, not just in May, but every month, every day. While many of us are OK talking about our physical health issues, there’s a hesitance when talking about our brain (mental) health issues.
This hesitance or discomfort is due to the stigma related to brain health. A stigma is a label placed on people to set them apart, to make them feel ashamed or embarrassed. Stigma like this keeps us from talking about and seeking care for our brain health concerns.
What can we do, together, to reduce and eliminate this stigma? We can change our own language. We can start sharing our health stories – both physical health and brain health. We can seek help when we need it and encourage others to do the same, without shame. Through our words and our actions, we can make it totally OK, totally normal, to talk about our brain health.
Because when we have our health, we have everything.
By Mae Hingtgen, CEO of the East Central Region of Mental Health and Disability Services of Iowa May 2023