Opinions

What About When You Self Can’t?: Rethinking how we view and talk about mental health.

While health, happiness, and hygiene have always been rather basic goals for the average individual, a new movement pushing the importance of self-care has become increasingly prominent in news and social media. In the modern world, self-care has become an excuse to take off of work/school, a reason to get together with friends, and a cause for many people to consider serious alterations to their lifestyles. There is quite plainly no issue with treating oneself with kindness; however, the results of extreme self-care culture deserve some reevaluation.

There is a certain unwarranted simplicity which tags along with the messages of modern self-care. For example, Rachel Hollis is the author of the popular Christian, self-help book, Girl, Wash Your Face. The idea behind Hollis’s work is that the world is full of lies aiming to define what one can and cannot do and be in life. Hollis explains that people need to “wash their face” to view reality with a fresh perspective, that happiness and fulfillment can be a personal choice not based upon the standards of society.

I can understand Hollis’s message to a point, still, I believe serious harm can be done through points that extremely simplify real problems any average person could face. Just as it would be absurd to explain to a person with severe acne that “just washing your face” would make their skin clear, it is unreasonable to teach people that specific lifestyle changes and internal choices can be the solution to serious struggles.

Presently, mental health is a frequently discussed topic across the nation, and it is highly encouraging that much is being done to reduce the stigma that has accompanied these kinds of health issues for so long. Unfortunately, I believe some of the extreme self-care ideas have stemmed from this movement to bring justice to those suffering with mental illnesses.

Self-care supporting messages can include important affirmations and encouragement explaining that getting run-down, overwhelmed, and needing time to actively take care of yourself is something that countless others also have to deal with on a regular basis. This is an important truth that works with destigmatization while also informing people that their struggles are not something they bear alone. The negative aspect comes from the resources which claim that the solutions to these kinds of hardships can be found by simply exercising, eating right, using the proper essential oils or face masks, or even by using solely power of the mind.

Some mental health issues require medical assistance, medication, and/or therapy. These self-care related actions can absolutely be beneficial, but they simply cannot be advertised as the solution to clinical depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. The limits of self-care must be more seriously considered instead of its practices becoming fashionable in a society where undiagnosed and untreated mental illness is so prevalent.

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