As modern science develops, so does our awareness of mental health. Therefore, whether you want to know more about your mental condition or be a mental health ally, it is vital to educate ourselves on the topic. Thus accordingly, we can create a mentally supportive environment for everyone.
Reading researches around mental health helps demystifies the stigma that mental health is not a scientific problem. It is also prominent to combat our unconscious bias regarding mental illness and deflate misconceptions. Therefore, it is crucial to educate ourselves from trustworthy sources. So usually, we find mental health organizations or licensed professionals to get verifiable educational material.
Unfortunately, it becomes difficult as COVID rages on, which causes some countries to lock back down. Hence, going out to see trained professionals who can answer our questions is often not an option. Thankfully, now we have every information the world has to offer at our fingertips so long as we have a connection to the internet. But with how easily people post on the internet, how do we separate legitimate sources that can support us to unverified information?
Free Learning Mental Health Resources:
1. Center of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
This Canadian organization has online resources on how to deal with addiction. In addition to addiction, you have access to information such as dealing with anxiety and depression and information about various coping tools. As death by suicide increases yearly, CAMH provides articles on suicide prevention. Mental health can affect not only the sufferers but also the caretakers. CAMH addresses this issue by providing educational information for caretakers. Unfortunately, mental health issues can occur to everyone, and even children. Luckily, CAMH has exercises for youths on mental health practices to maintain good mental health that you can share with your young ones or siblings. Having detailed information can lessen your anxiety. During a pandemic, it is common to be anxious, especially with the uncertainty around the virus. More often than not, having trustworthy information about what you are facing helps alleviate those worries. CAMH has great COVID-19 FAQs that can give you facts about the virus and links that direct you to trustworthy COVID-19 facts providers such as government agencies and WHO.
Wellness Together Canada works with the government to provide two free hotlines and text messaging services for youth and adult mental health or substance abuse counseling. In addition, the website offers tips to stay connected with your friends during the pandemic and what to say when you want to check on each other's wellbeing. One of my favorite features is the short breathing exercises you can listen to during your work breaks or on the road. Moreover, they have strategies to handle stress, depression, and worries too. The best part about their resources is that at the beginning of their articles, Wellness Together Canada writes the benefit of each resource in easy-to-read point forms! It saves time by giving you a glimpse of what you are about to read.
3. American Psychiatric Association (APA)
Aside from providing exam preparation, certification, and license for psychiatrists, it provides scientific information about different mental illnesses on a section called Patients and Family. The easiest way to describe how to navigate the page is to imagine a dictionary for mental health conditions, indexed alphabetically. If you click on a mental illness, it will show you the definition, symptoms, information, stories of people who have been diagnosed with the condition. Furthermore, you can also find helpful blog posts, questions by fellow website visitors, and recommended treatment. All in all, this site is a must-read if you are looking for scientific learning materials to get to know common mental health conditions.
The United Kingdom-based online mental health resource providing coping tools, online links to additional mental health services and connects you to free peer-support online communities. Particularly useful for younger generations who often have to deal with cyberbullying. Mind provides tips to deal with the issue and how to stay safe while meeting someone from the online community for the first time. Great news for you who prefer watching short videos to reading! The mind has its own Youtube Channel that provides educational resources. They range from what it was like to live with a disorder to mindfulness techniques. Some videos also talk about how mental health affects people in different communities like the LGBTQ+ society. Sometimes, when you feel like struggling with your mental illness alone, it can feel suffocating. Another option if you are always rushing or barely have any time to read, you can listen to Mind's podcast to listen to other people's experiences.
5. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
This organization is especially good at addressing mental health needs based on how people identify themselves. NAMI has different resources depending on the mental health condition or a person's identity. For instance, in the LGBTQ+ community section, they have a segment that discusses coping with identity rejection and mental health issues most prevalent with members of the LGBTQ+ community. NAMI gives informational statistics while also providing hotlines specific to the community. For example, there are separate hotline numbers for suicide prevention for front-liners and trauma for Indigenous children - depending on each person's need. In addition to identity-specific information, the organization provides information about common signs of declining mental health and different mental health treatments. Similar to Mind, NAMI has its own Youtube Channel to educate yourself on the go.
These are learning resources to get familiar with a wide range of mental health issues, their causes, and possible treatments. Although some provide mindfulness tips, if you are looking for immediate ideas to cope with depression, check out 7 Ways to Cope with Depression.