Prioritizing Mental Well-being: A Personal Journey - MetroFamily Magazine
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Prioritizing Mental Well-Being: A Personal Journey

by Christina Mushi-Brunt

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

In April 2024, I made an appointment with a new primary care provider. What brought me to there was an unrelenting physical ailment that had led to two emergency room visits within five months. What I left her office with was a renewed sense of hope for my mental well-being.

You see, in addition to my gallbladder issue, I knew that I was heading towards a mental health breaking point. I sat in her office with tears streaming down my face as I filled out the mental health part of the new patient intake paperwork. My new nurse practitioner referred me to a mental health therapy clinic.

I’ve been here before back in 2017. While publicly I was still fully engaged out in my community, at home, it had gotten to the point where it took everything to get out of bed each day. On some weekends, I simply did not. One weekend, hearing our oldest child (only a sixth grader at the time) instruct his younger siblings to come to him with their needs so that “mommy can rest” broke my heart. At that time, I finally opened up to my previous nurse practitioner about my declining mental health and started meeting with a wonderful therapist. And then I stopped.

I was raised in a culture that didn’t have open conversations about mental health. In some cultures, acknowledging mental health struggles is viewed as weakness. Mental health struggles are sometimes also blamed on a lack of will, focus, faith, etc. Seeking out psychological/mental health help can be viewed as frivolous and counter-cultural. I convinced myself that I just needed to think more positively and move on.

I bring all of this up to inform/remind readers that taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health, regardless of what you may have been taught to believe from a historical and/or cultural perspective.

Did you know that July was designated as Minority Mental Health Month by the U.S. Congress in 2008? You may be thinking “but, didn’t we just observe Mental Health Awareness Month in May? Why do it all again in July? And why focus on minority populations?

Well, despite the fact that all populations are impacted by mental illness, there is research that continues to show alarming differences in how many (and why) minority populations are impacted more negatively than others. Mental health service access and use is significantly lower among some cultures, racial/ethnic groups and sexual identities. Some reasons for this include the lack of available culturally-sensitive mental health professionals, language barriers, biases, discrimination and stigma.

Minority Mental Health Month helps raise awareness about mental health and available resources, support and treatment for minority populations. If you identify as a member of a minority/underserved community and are struggling, make July the month that you take action. Maybe that action is acknowledging that you’re not doing okay (and that’s okay). Maybe it’s sharing your concerns about your own or a loved one’s mental well-being with a trusted friend. Or, find out what mental health services are available in your community.

This time around, my therapy journey has been incredibly productive. I have overcome the shame that I initially felt about talking through the hard things of life with an outsider. And, I have shared this journey with my family. With my words and actions, my kids see that cultural stigmas don’t have to be a barrier to seeking out help. We now have regular conversations and check in with one another about our mental health.

If you or someone you love needs help, you can speak to a trained behavioral health professional free of charge by calling or texting 988 or going to: https://988oklahoma.com/. If it is a mental health crisis/emergency, call 911.

Need more information? Find additional resources and articles focusing on mental health on our website.

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