Would you be surprised to learn that 1 in 5 adults and 17% of youth experience mental health issues? Or do you find that number to be low, based on the experiences in your community? According to data from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), in 2020, mental health issues impacted 21% of Americans. The COVID-19 Pandemic has been the catalyst for many people to start speaking openly about mental health issues that have long been suppressed. As difficult as this period has been for most of us, it is changing the ways that we understand others and reach out for help.
Mental health can be a combination of many factors. While many of us are quick to think of mental health as being the result of genetics and/or personal life stressors, we often do not think of the systemic roots of injustice that contribute to mental health. The term intersectionality refers to the understanding that everyone has unique experiences of discrimination and oppression, and these experiences can intersect, or culminate, in the experiences of marginalized individuals and groups. This image, by artist Alyse Ruriani (@alyseruriani) illustrates the many layers of inequities that people face and how this impacts mental health:
Therapy provides a safe place where we can process our individual experiences and relate them to greater societal and cultural injustices. Many people come to therapy because they cannot silence the "inner critic" within them that points out every perceived failure or weakness. What people do not always realize is that they have often internalized the expectations of a society that is flawed. By starting to understand the ways in which white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy shape the narratives we have about ourselves, we can begin to break down shame and stigma and advocate for greater equality and justice.
Insight Mental Wellness strives to provide an intersectional framework to understand mental health. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.