The first week of October is Mental Health Awareness Week. I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about something that is often ignored by society and a larger taboo to talk abo ut openly. Mental health is an aspect of ourselves we cannot ignore for too long, otherwise we risk hurting ourselves. So I thought I would put out there some ways to help alleviate the pressure of having a mental illness.

1. Be open with people.

Being open about what you're dealing with is truly horrendously difficult - we are always worried we will be judged. We always worry this will result in being abandoned or more trauma from revealing it. But people will always surprise you with how open they can be. No matter what, it's important to let your family and friends in on what's happening in your life. Don't lean on them too much where they might feel overwhelmed, but if they are important to you they should know for your safety.

2. Don't fall into the stigma.

Falling into the stigma and thinking or believing something is wrong with you will only make it worse. I know how hard it is to not have those thoughts and think all of those things about yourself, but it's particularly dangerous because it lead to feelings such as lack of self worth. These feelings could, in turn, prevent you from getting the help you need. People often don't go to talk therapy or counseling because they refuse to admit they have a problem. Admitting something is wrong is perhaps the first step to figuring out how to go about it, and ultimately make yourself feel better.

3. Know when you can't be a therapist anymore.

Friends often can turn to you when they need help, but you can't always be emotionally available. It can be hard to say you need to focus on yourself, but if you need to have some time to yourself it's perfectly okay and don't feel bad about it.

4. Practice self-care.

Get into the habit of going to bed at a certain time. Eating regularly. Keeping up on schoolwork if you can. Relaxing during the day or setting aside time for a hobby.

5. Journaling/meditation/yoga etc.

Practice methods of relaxation, such as yoga or journaling to organize your head at the end of the day. It can be a way to prevent further anxieties or issues.