Change is important, and change has been happening at a rapid pace with the help of younger generations' outspoken nature. We have so many improvements to society today in comparison to where we were one century ago because so many people have spoken up about their emotions, about how they feel in a harsh world. Even then, we need to look to those who are not traditionally paired with an "outspoken mindset" about mental health because we all need the ability to speak up about how we feel.
Though an unorthodox beginning to a piece about speaking up for change, men — in my opinion — have some of the fewest opportunities to voice their true feelings in fear that they will be ridiculed for not appearing "traditionally masculine." Instead, they are told to channel everything in forms of aggression that paint the image of unhinged individuals with no boundaries.
Men deserve the ability to speak about their mental health because it is perfectly human to have feelings. Acting as if males have no access to emotions besides happiness and anger oversimplifies the fact that the range of human experience comes from our unique ability to tap into our vulnerable side.
Women in marginalized communities
In third-world countries, women live in some of the most dangerous regions on the planet. And if they even try to speak up, they are met by large waves of backlash from their communities. From what I have gathered, a large reason for the oppression is due to the conventional views of poorer societies and how rigid these beliefs can be. As a result, an outspoken female seems to be a threat to the way the community runs.
College students are some of the most stressed people I have known personally, but when they speak about mental health, they usually have to do so in metaphors or by using jokes as masks to cover the depth of their emotions. I can't pinpoint why specifically this happens, but college students deserve to speak more openly about their mental health because they are facing a difficult part of their lives.
Parents with older children
My friend recommended this group to me for several reasons, mainly because parents of young adults have to deal with many challenges surrounding taking care of their kids while also planning for their own futures. Plus, having to focus on so many people at the same time gives them less time to care for themselves, so speaking up about their mental health would let them see just how much weight they carry on their shoulders.
Teachers are some of the kindest people you will ever meet, and they are the ones who will change your perspective on life. Unfortunately, as students, we don't hear about how they feel on a day-to-day basis unless they're prompted. Teachers deserve to talk about their mental health because, for all of the knowledge and assistance they give to future generations, they deserve the same kind of care in return.
Last year, I volunteered at multiple senior homes during their game nights, and those of us who spent time with them talked to them and would learn about what was going on in their lives. It has stuck with me since then that elders deserve to speak about their mental health because they face issues in their own lives that might be unheard of to younger individuals. Besides, a variety of perspectives can only bring light to unspoken issues.
Fathers of newborns
Another group brought up by a friend of mine, fathers of newborns are often not asked about their mentality during the process of learning to take care of a child. Of course, this comes with the realization that a mother has gone through physical and mental duress to deliver the child after carrying it for months. At the same time, completely ignoring the father's mental state can take its toll. New fathers deserve to speak about their mental health more because they are each half of a pair that raises a human being.
The LGBTQIA+ community
The LGBTQIA+ community has taken massive strides throughout history to fight for rights given to heterosexuals, but even with all of its accomplishments, the community still deserves to be heard for the mental and physical struggles that can take place. Adults in the community especially may have difficulty speaking out in contrast to younger individuals because so much change has taken place recently that voicing opinions can be difficult. Nevertheless, hearing everyone's voice matters if we want to progress in the future.
We've heard our fair share of celebrities supposedly "lashing out" or "going crazy" all of the sudden after massive success, but people immediately resent the person for that one moment rather than wonder if they are OK. Celebrities deal with the massive pressures of pleasing fans, maintaining a curated image, and battling paparazzi, and these combined responsibilities can take a toll on one's mental health.
Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
One of the worst reactions I have seen from society toward a group of people is the way it has actively dismissed individuals on the Autism Spectrum, specifically the fact that people use "retarded," "demented," and "autistic" as insults. Having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) does not mean there is something wrong about an individual and is instead what makes a person unique, yet there are such negative connotations around ASD that demean those who have it. The fact that there is a spectrum means that ASD comes in different forms and may vary depending on the person.
Allowing individuals who have ASD to speak about their mental health would reduce the backlash that they must face for no reason at all. Everyone is a human being, but treating some as inferior for what they cannot control is simply unfair and cruel.
No matter what one's identity, race, gender, or socioeconomic class is, we all have our own internal struggles to share. It's important not to keep our feelings pent up inside until we burst into pieces, and no one should have to worry about if it's OK to speak up because who they are prevents them from doing so.