CMHA Mental Health Week 2020
Author: Katrina Wilson M.A. RPC
Everybody has been feeling the effects of the social distancing that is in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are reporting higher levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. One thing the CMHA is noticing though, is that despite the very common experience we are all sharing, very few people are saying out loud to others how they are actually feeling. Canadians especially include “How are you” in our greetings, and the standard answer is “I’m fine”. But we don’t really mean we’re fine. We’re struggling, each in our own way, and whenever we say “I’m fine”, we are denying ourselves the opportunity for connection and support.
This year for mental health week, the CMHA is challenging people to discard the old response of “I’m fine”, and to let people know what you really mean. This is hard to do, because it involves overcoming the hump of vulnerability and authenticity. Saying how we really feel cracks that enamel of “being strong” and exposes the struggle we are facing inside. This is a scary thing, and one that doesn’t come easily for many people (check out Brene Brown for more information on vulnerability). However, saying how we really feel is a form of connection, something we all desperately need right now. So much so that the CMHA is calling for a change in terminology, from social distancing to physical distancing.
Saying how we really feel allows us to be true to ourselves, to be authentic in a moment where it is so easy to cave to the stigma of having a hard time, or of feeling ok. It gives us permission to feel the way we feel, without the shame of having to hide it from others. It also gives us the opportunity to be supported, and validated, because it’s guaranteed that others are feeling the same way as you. Finally, it gives others permission to also be vulnerable and authentic, creating a sense of acceptance and community.
It’s time to throw out the old, standard response of “I’m fine”, and embrace a new and authentic way of expressing how we feel. So when you say “I’m fine”, what do you really mean?