We talk at length in these blog posts about burnout, stress, and checking in with yourself amid the million different things in need of your attention. We often forget to call that what it is: caring for your mental health.

May is “Mental Health Awareness Month,” and while many mental health issues disproportionately affect women, there is still a stigma surrounding the issue. A few facts about women and mental health from Mental Health America:

  • Women experience depression at roughly twice the rate of men. Girls 14-18 have consistently higher rates of depression than boys this age. Depression occurs most frequently in women aged 24 to 44.
  • According to a Mental Health America survey, more than one-half women cited denial as a barrier to treatment while 41% of women surveyed cited embarrassment or shame as barriers to treatment.
  • Fewer than one-half of the women who experience clinical depression will ever seek care.
  • Approximately 12 million women in the US experience clinical depression each year.

We hear of (and often experience) women’s physical health getting pushed to the back burner because we “don’t have time to be sick” or we’re “too busy taking care of others.” If that’s the case with our physical health, are we letting our mental health fall even further down our list with excuses like “it’s just stress” or “it’s just this season of life”?

Mental health is only one component of our lives, but it affects everything we do, and it affects almost every topic on which The Source tries to educate women: productivity, relationships, finances, time management. If the status of our mental health has such a firm grasp on our personal and professional lives and is disproportionately affecting women, why is there still a stigma around it?

No matter where we are in our careers or lives, we can all play a part in opening up the conversation surrounding mental health and destigmatizing the topic. If we’re managers or business owners, it’s a topic that we can speak to our employees about. When a supervisor emphasizes the importance of something, it undoubtedly has a trickle-down effect throughout the company. It’s a topic we can all destigmatize for those coming behind us, whether that’s daughters, mentees, or younger coworkers.

It’s not a problem we’re going to solve in one blog post, but it’s something we can all start talking about more. Part of mentoring and empowering one other sometimes means asking if someone needs help or simply needs a break.

The first step is talking about the issue and allowing everyone to feel comfortable discussing their mental health. If you or someone you know might benefit from an investment into his or her mental health, please check out the resources below. Our mental health is a topic worth exploring and a conversation worth having.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Office on Women’s Health

American Psychiatric Association

Mental Health America – Mental Health Screen Tools

National Institute of Mental Health