May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Diane Smith, VenuWorks

May is mental health awareness month. Many people assume this is just in reference to psychological disorders, however, mental health includes our emotional, social well-being, and our psychological health. Just like physical health, we all experience mental unhealth in a spectrum of ways. 

But let’s chat about our psychological health, specifically mental health disorders. There are four main mental health illnesses that include mood (depression), anxiety, personality, and psychotic disorders. Women are more prone to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

Mental health disorders have carried a stigma for many men and women. Historically, those with an illness are seen as weak, crazy, and just need to “suck it up.” However, this viewpoint is harmful and thankfully individuals’ perceptions have started to change. 

Living with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or any other mental health illness does not diminish you as a woman, a mother, or as a person. I am living with anxiety and depression and have struggled with my self-image. When I started working in corporate America after being in the non-profit sector, I was paralyzed with thoughts of not being enough. How was I going to be seen as a professional woman when I battle anxiety and bouts of depression that make it hard for me to function? 

It’s okay to not be okay. It is okay to take medicine and to see a therapist. It is okay to protect yourself and your mental health. Simone Biles made headlines when she withdrew from the Olympics to protect her mental well-being. I am living with anxiety and depression. I am a suicide loss survivor. I am a champion and a voice for all individuals living with mental health illnesses. 

If you are struggling, please seek support. You are not alone. Our community has many resources for all. 

  • Talk to a physician about medicine.
  • Seek a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. 
  • Reach out to your support group – friends and family. 
  • In the dark moments, don’t forget to breathe and acknowledge that this is simply a moment in time. It might not be okay right now, but it will be okay eventually. 
  • Know that you are not alone! 
  • Other helpful tips include getting outside, going for a walk, and snuggling with pets.

Local resources: 

Foundation 2: Crisis Line 1-855-800-1239

NAMI of Linn County –

NAMI of Johnson County –

Thank you to Diane Smith, Vice President, PWN for being a mental health advocate in our community.