Mental health is a part of life. We need to give our brains the utmost care in order for the rest of our bodies to function. Unfortunately, mental health care and mental illness are often talked about in hushed whispers. In order to break the stigmas we have to normalize its presence in our society, celebrate people when they share their struggles, and strive to do better for those who cannot advocate for themselves.
A necessary part of that process involves learning more about the history of mental health care and attitudes about mental illness. For centuries, many cultures did not recognize mental illnesses as medical conditions. Instead, people living with mental illness were often believed to have dirty minds, be possessed, or in need of religious intervention. These negative attitudes, fears, and lack of knowledge stigmatized individuals and perpetuated the need to improve mental health institutions.
In the United States, the first part of the 20th century was a time of great improvements in mental health care. One of the most significant developments occurred in 1909, when Clifford Beers founded the National Committee for Mental Hygiene. Now known as Mental Health America (MHA), the mission of the nonprofit organization is to provide better care and intervention for Americans struggling with mental illness. In 1949, the MHA started the first Mental Health Month, which the Obama administration celebrated in 2013 by expanding mental health care support under the Affordable Care Act.
Although mental health is a year-round concern, Mental Health Month brings it to the forefront of public discourse. The purpose of the month-long event is to raise as much awareness as possible, educate the public, and advocate for others. For Mental Health Month 2022, Nature’s Grace and Wellness has pushed our Spark the Conversation campaign throughout various dispensaries in Illinois. Dozens of budristas participated in our mental health workshop, where they learned about mental health conditions, tips for centering the self when struggling with mental health concerns, and how to talk about them with others. We hope that the cannabis industry professionals who complete the workshop can go on to become ambassadors within their communities, and better serve the patients and customers they interact with every day. Sharing our lived experiences and sparking the conversation about mental health can help to break the stigmas and let others know they are not alone.
“Take care of your brain- it runs the whole machine”—AHJR