Stories have enormous potential. They can teach us a lesson, tug at our heartstrings or reveal an entirely new perspective—the possibilities are truly endless. Recognizing the power that every story holds, this year’s Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Mental Health Week theme is My Story.
More specifically, it’s all about focusing on the many layers that make us who we are, and how sharing these layers, together, supports the ongoing push toward improving mental health.
Sticking to the Surface
We all have a version of ourselves that we’re comfortable presenting to the world. You might be the friend to call in a pinch, the one who always shares a smile or known for having the best movie recommendations. It’s our surface-level self, with all the characteristics and emotions that we deem ‘appropriate.’
This is the self we rely on to cover up the other aspects, whether it’s work stress, family troubles or any number of things we want to keep from slipping through. It’s the part of us that automatically responds, “good,” when asked how we’re doing, regardless of what’s really going on.
Peeling Back the Layers
Everyone knows that the answer can’t always be “good,” so what keeps us telling that same old story again and again? We may worry about being judged, or feel that vulnerability is a weakness. The truth is, opening up to others, even a little—peeling back that surface layer, if you will—takes incredible strength. And once you do, whether that’s on your own or with a little help from Arete’s mental health supports, you’ll reap the benefits.
Sharing your Authentic Self
That age-old adage, sharing is caring, is especially true when it comes to speaking candidly about our struggles with mental health. This is one way to lean into social support, which is important for not only mental wellness, but physical too. Those benefits we mentioned? Reducing stress, fostering connections, creating a sense of belonging, gaining new insight—the list goes on.
Additionally, by reaching beyond those initial layers and bringing your authentic self forward, you create space for others to do the same. Each time you do, you’re helping to reduce stigma, spread awareness and remind the one in five Canadians who will experience a mental health illness or issue that they’re not alone.
Choosing a Medium for your Message
You know how powerful your story is, but keep in mind that how you share it is also empowering. There are so many unique ways to express yourself, from music to movement and everything in between. Choosing the right medium for you not only effectively channels the message you want to share but also helps to foster your mental well-being. That’s a win-win if you ask us.
So go forth and share your story—your authentic self—for the sake of mental health.