My friend Mark Freeman is a mental health advocate from Toronto, and runs a Tumblr called Everybody Has a Brain. Mark used to have obsessive compulsive disorder, and through mindfulness and other practices, managed to regain control of his mental health. This is not possible in all cases of mental health problems, however.
I think the concept of “everybody has a brain” is important. There is still a stigma around mental health problems, and just like any other organ that can get sick or develop disease, the brain is no different. Everybody has a brain. Everybody should, therefore, be concerned about mental health, whether that’s decreasing stigma of mental illness—which can happen to anybody—or actively doing things to improve your own mental health, such as meditation and mindfulness, journaling, yoga, or just chatting with a friend about how you’re feeing and what’s causing you stress. There are many apps that can help with these things—my personal favourite meditation app is called Smiling Mind, and it is a free and approachable way to learn guided meditation. Yoga Studio is a paid app that can help you create custom yoga routines, and is especially great if you’re like me and have joint or mobility issues that affect your ability to partake in every yoga pose. For years, I’ve been intermittently journaling with Evernote, but I also revert to an old school notebook and pen; drawing or creating art can also be a good method to relax and express yourself—even if you’re not an artist.
Finding strategies to boost your mental health is important for everyone: whether or not you have a diagnosed mental illness. Self-care can help you to feel more energized, less stressed, more in control of your emotions, and more balanced in life. If you live with mental health issues, self-care can be an important part in recovery or treatment, and help reinforce that mental illness is not your fault. As well, a solid foundation of self-care strategies practiced regularly can help you if you are diagnosed with a mental health condition or chronic disease later on. Good self-care may not prevent mental illness, but it can be a positive step in addressing it: developing these practices means one less thing to master if you find yourself in need of lifestyle changes stemming from chronic disease or mental illness.
1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness each year.  Chances are good that you know multiple people living with a mental health condition—such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia—you may not even know that someone has one of these conditions. Unfortunately, though, many people delay seeking treatment or have difficulty accessing treatment for mental illness, no matter where you live. Insurance coverage or over-saturated public health systems are daunting issues for anyone to face, never mind someone who is already struggling. Reducing the stigma of asking for help in navigating these services is important. Talk to people you know and love about mental health—whether you have mental illness or not—and how you can help each other navigate mental health as you would physical health!
Certain treatments for mental health conditions may come with a warning to wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace in case of an emergency; in other cases, unexpected symptoms may make you feel more comfortable wearing a medical ID bracelet so you don’t have to explain yourself and can instead direct bystanders to your bracelet. Ask your doctor, therapist, or other mental health care provider, if you should consider wearing a medical ID for mental illness.