May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Experts say we need to change the way we think about our mental health.
“Mental health needs to be re-branded," Dr. Justin Ross, a Psychologist and the Director of Workplace Well Being for UCHealth, describes mental health as a collection of your human experiences.
“So mental health captures the way we're thinking. The way we're feeling. The way we are relating to others, and the way we are able to go about the tasks of our lives," he said.
Dr. Ross said to think of our mental health like our physical health. It's rare that a person never gets sick. He said it’s the same for our mental health — it’s something the vast majority of us will need to deal with at some point in our lives.
“Mental health is something we all have, and like physical health, we all have mental health and we need to work on areas that might be giving us a hard time, or might be problematic. And we need to learn that we can all enhance our mental health or well being," Dr. Ross said.
But there's still a stigma that having to talk to someone about our feelings or inner thoughts is a sign of weakness.
“It can be a really daunting process to get started for people," Dr. Ross said.
He said understanding why it’s not easy can be the gateway to taking the first step and reaching out for help.
“I think one of my favorite sayings is 'you cannot change what you're not aware of.' But often, what comes with that awareness is an initial heightened level of pain when you open these things up. Because a lot of these things don't have an immediate solution. They take some time. They take some change. They take a different approach to ultimately heal," Dr. Ross said.