*MFOLH will be hosting an Intersectionality: GVP x MENTAL HEALTH event on JULY 31 where we will be discussing the intersections between gun violence prevention and topics related to mental health. We hope to see you there!
Mental Health for Activists: Esther
As activists, we are passionate in advocating for our causes— an energy born from both a genuine desire to improve our world as well as an understanding of the gravity of the situation should we choose to remain inactive in situations of injustice. We take it upon ourselves to stay educated and constantly seek out information: what is going on in the world, and how can I help? March For Our Lives members pride ourselves on being intersectional activists, an aspect of our activism we highlight in our intersectionality event series. Beyond fighting for gun violence prevention, we are painfully aware of racist police brutality, the creeping onset of environmental disaster, attacks on reproductive rights, the rise of violent white nationalist terrorism — the list goes on. With the inadequacy of several of our leaders to address these issues, and our place in the generation that will inherit this world, the same sense of responsibility that makes us powerful activists pressures us into believing that we alone have the responsibility to address them. And it's suffocating.
In times like these, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Activists are often prone to anxiety from their activism, and taking care of yourself becomes all the more crucial. Self-care comes in many forms— find what works for you and incorporate it into your daily routine. Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. Activism is not your burden to bear alone. Take care of yourself and take care of your friends. We have a huge task ahead of us, but we will face it together.
Mental Health & Supporting Others: Chardelene
Many of us know how important it is to take care of our bodies. As children, our parents tell us to eat our vegetables, play outside, practice proper hygiene, the list goes on. From dieting to exercising, we do what we can to adapt healthy habits to stay fit. Taking care of our physical health is always stressed, but what about our mental health? Do we truly know how to handle stress and anxiety? Are we capable of recognizing the signs of mental illness? Do we know how to react when someone comes to us seeking help?
Understanding mental health is difficult, but to really grasp it, we have to destigmatize it. We have to discuss why taking care of our mental health is important and start a conversation on the importance of self-care and avoiding burnout. Check on your friends and family. If you notice someone you know is upset, ask them if they’re willing to talk to you about, and if they are, listen. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention has some tips on how to begin a conversation on mental health.
When a friend or family member opens up about their mental health or anything they may be struggling with at the moment, active listening is a great skill to have. Simply letting the other person know that you understand what the other person is communicating can help validate their feelings and let them know that you are there for them! You can do this by maintaining eye contact, nodding your head, refraining from judgements, and asking them questions. To learn more about how to become a better listener, read here!
If you are struggling with your mental health, don’t be afraid to seek help. Your mental health is part of your overall well-being, and shouldn’t be overlooked. Take care of yourself, always.
Personal Message: Kathleen Hoang
As activists, the most important thing we can do is to take care of ourselves and our own mental health and personal wellbeing. As young people fighting for change, we automatically want to work and organize constantly, every second of our lives, but realize that the fight has already been lost when we fail to fight for ourselves first. Burnout is so real, especially as an activist—we’re so young and we’re doing such powerful and overwhelming work and we have to remember to stop and breathe and look around ourselves. Our activism is not a desperate two week sprint, it’s a slow marathon—kind and forgiving. Watch TikTok, hug your mom, walk your dog, watch the sunset; remember to do what you want and like to do. This world is yours to take. We don't have to dedicate every second of our day to fighting for justice; do shit you want to do. Don’t forget to eat, sleep, and shower and don’t forget your friends & family because they’re rooting for you and you need to take advantage of the fact that they’re there for you; don’t forget them in your activism.
Best of luck kiddos. The world is ours to bask in.