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Normalizing Mental Health (Because It’s Really Freakin’ Important)

mental healthEarlier this year, I had a panic attack at work. Thoughts were swirling in my head so fast I couldn’t pinpoint a single issue, and I thought I was going to throw up. I wondered if this was the start of more frequent, bigger issues. At least for me, someone with mild anxiety, anxiety tends to breed more anxiety. I would have tried to ignore my problem altogether, as the estimated majority of the 1 in 5 people with mental illness do, but I was encouraged to seek help by the increasingly more common articles and online conversations I was seeing about de-stigmatizing mental illness.

I decided to see a therapist. I found someone who helped me to identify that I was going through a stressful time in my life, which I had been completely denying. I thought I had everything under control. But nope. I was starting my second semester of grad school, trying to train for a half marathon, and trying to keep the updates to my home moving along, in addition to working a full-time job and maintaining a social life. It was becoming too much. I wasn’t really able to make many changes to my load, but simply identifying my stressors helped. My therapist said that I “catastrophize,” which means I tend to get to the end result immediately — which is good for problem solving but bad for everyday life when someone doesn’t answer the phone and I assume the worst.  

I was hesitant to discuss my issues with anyone other than those very close to me because I didn’t want to have to qualify my experience. I had one panic attack and went to therapy, whereas others may have daily panic attacks and take medication. I didn’t want to have to prove to anyone that my condition was worthy of treatment. Simply having a mental health professional listen to me and tell me I’m not alone in these experiences helped so much. Everyone’s situation is different, and that’s so important to remember as mental wellness is becoming equal to physical health.

So, great news: Walgreens launched the Walgreens’ Mental Health Program earlier this month. The campaign begins in conjunction with Mental Health Month, observed each May. Walgreens and Mental Health America will collaborate to address the needs of people with mental illness and to promote overall mental health of all Americans, which is awesome. In addition to training its pharmacists to better serve patients, the program will connect people with screenings for a number of mental illnesses and then facilitate treatment. If I’d had this program to turn to, I totally would have. A screening for anxiety would have been perfect for me. I am such a fan of Walgreens for starting this and making mental healthcare more accessible to more people.

“The purpose of mental health therapy is to help people live happier, more productive lives,” according to Walgreens. And let’s be honest — Walgreens isn’t wrong. That’s all there is to it. Mental health therapy doesn’t mean calling out the crazies. It means helping everyone feel their best. For too long, mental illness has been degraded or simply ignored. But mental illness can affect all kinds of people in all kinds of ways (including celebrities such as Kristen Bell), so Walgreens is taking a step to normalize mental health. What’s more normal than trying to lead a “happy, more productive” life?

Are you happy to see mental health being valued and talked about more, too? —Megan

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1 Comment
  1. The fact is, to have a happier and more optimistic life, our biggest obstacle is psychology rather than external conditions. Keep your mind relaxed and calm by yoga or meditation. I see my life changing a lot.

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