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Mental health crisis and substance abuse - ways to improve productivity
Behavioral illness—depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other issues—is a dark place. Many—perhaps even most—of your friends and family members will not understand what you are going through. You must reach out anyway. Identify and rely on those within your immediate support network who do understand, who are committed to helping you through a long-term plan for coping and recovery.
1. Decide to do absolutely everything in your power to to improve your behavioral health. Commit to change what you can and work around what you can’t. Flatly refuse to let this challenge define you—either as a passive victim, or worse, by taking pride and entitlement in it—and you will find open doors to vast improvements in your quality of life, even if you are never fully ‘cured.’
2. Be willing to recognize and acknowledge what is going on. Monitor yourself. Know the warning signs or triggers for your condition, and get help early when you recognize them rather than ignoring them or trying to manage them yourself.
3. Get professional help. Find a credible, credentialed professional trained in psychiatric methods.
4. Never stop contributing to the world. If you are wrestling with mental health or substance abuse issues, your employment prospects may seem bleak. If your circumstances force you out of your chosen career path, resist the temptation to give up. If you are able, find a career pivot that will allow you to work around your challenges. Even if you are unable to ‘work,’ find ways to contribute meaningfully, even if they feel small at the moment. With every diligent act of productivity, you exercise control over your life and claim our common birthright of human dignity.
5. Let your story be heard. We exist in a culture that largely disavows mental illness. By appropriately sharing your story in positive, proactive ways, you not only take a crucial step toward management or recovery—you provide an essential ingredient in rewriting our cultural narrative of these issues—from the inside.
6. Educate yourself. Invest some time into reading up on mental illness.
7. To the degree possible, make an effort to empathize.
Strive to truly understand the experience of those who must confront the reality of mental illness on a daily basis. Tactfully reach out to affected friends and family for first-hand accounts to deepen your understanding of ‘a day in the life.’
8. Commit to being non-judgmental.
Decide that you will let the facts and personal stories about mental illness come together for you, and that you will work to form an accurate and compassionate view of how they work—and what it really takes for a person to take back their mental health.
9. Reach outside of yourself with a willingness to help.
Find at least one way to meaningfully help someone suffering from depression, anxiety, or other issues along their path toward coping with or recovering. Tactfully reach out to friends or family who experience mental disorder and listen to their stories. Find ways, big or small, to lend a hand, brighten their day, and lighten the load they carry. Show them you see them.
10. We must work to change public perception of mental health and mental health issues.
In addition to the proper self-care and empathy I suggest above, each of us can be an agent for change, simply by breaking our own link in the vicious cycle.