For this mental health awareness month, I want to shift the discussion away from diagnoses. Focusing on symptoms aligns a person with a DSM code, and doesn’t add a lot to the discussion of how we can help ourselves or our loved ones who might be struggling. No matter how our brain chemistry functions, we all have a responsibility this month (and always) to enact the small changes that we can, and speak up about broader changes that we may not be able to fix by ourselves! ⠀ • ⠀ -Talk to yourself and to others with kindness⠀ -Fuel your body with as much good food as possible⠀ -See a doctor if you can, prioritize your health⠀ -Pay attention to which relationships you value, and step away from connections that feel heavy or toxic⠀ -Spend more time outside (it’s MAY after all🌱🌞)⠀ • ⠀ But it’s important to recognize that this list has some pot holes. We all want it to be this easy, but the reality is that there are real structural barriers that impact mental health and can make it hard to get help. This month I value myself, I value my family and friends, but most of all I value advocating for social change. after all, as long as disparities in healthcare, education, livable income, and environmental safety exist, so will disparities in access to quality care. ⠀ • ⠀ Let’s keep raising our awareness & reducing stigma. It can be tough out there, just know that if you’re struggling, you aren’t alone.