You’re not broken, you’re human: Tips and tools that helped me manage my mental health

June 6, 2023

GreenShield Cares about women's mental health

By: Brynta Ponn

Book your free therapy today

Therapy. Mental Health. Trauma. These were not terms I had much knowledge of growing up as a South Asian woman and as a result I often found myself struggling in silence. I didn’t hear about resources to help if someone needed it and mental health issues were usually met with judgment and criticism due to a lack of understanding and information. I didn’t even realize I could benefit from speaking to someone professionally until my mid-twenties. I was content with repression and denial if it meant I didn’t have to face what I was dealing with and possibly bring shame onto my household if anyone found out. I truly believed that seeking help meant something was wrong with you, because that is all I had heard about it. Thankfully, I now know the truth. The truth that needing or wanting to participate in therapy and other mental health resources doesn’t make you crazy or broken, it just means you possess an understanding of yourself and your life that allows you to put yourself first. It means that in a world filled with unprecedented levels of stress for us as humans, you are brave enough to ask for help to show up as your best self. There is no shame in that, nor should wanting to be happy or seeking outlets to navigate your experiences be something to be feared.

Although I now have access to regular therapy sessions and a therapist I love who also understands my needs, getting here was not as easy as I thought it would be. I was naïve enough to type “therapy in my area” into the Google search bar and rummage through 5-star reviews hoping for a good one. Turns out I wasn’t just looking for a licensed professional with rave reviews but also someone who matched my background and profile. Someone who could understand my life experience and how my upbringing and culture influenced the person I was to become. I spent hours explaining the ins and outs of my culture and background to people who simply couldn’t understand or help me navigate situations unique to the way I was raised. I learned the hard way that finding culturally safe therapy was an important aspect to managing my mental health effectively. Learning that therapy was not a one size fits all practice and utilizing tools like the GreenShield Cares program’s personalized counselling matching tool helped immensely in finding the right fit for me. The program includes over 50 matching options, including culture, race, language, and religion, to ensure women can find a mental health professional who shares and/or can relate to their identity and lived experiences; a factor we should all be looking for in healthcare professionals. If you want to try GreenShield’s personalized counselling matching tool, check it out here.

Therapy is certainly the most obvious and one of the most helpful tools to utilize when it comes to mental health, but it certainly is not the only one. Unfortunately, there are also barriers that prevent people from accessing therapy and other mental health resources they need, especially within marginalized and racialized communities. With that being said it is important that we also speak to other tips and tools that can help any of us who may be struggling with our mental health.

  • Journaling my thoughts and feelings on a daily basis has been a proven helpful method for me to not only clear my mind but to also make sense of my thoughts and fears and where they may be coming from.
  • Taking up a relaxation practice, like meditation or yoga, has been a great tool to help slow down and calm my breathing and the racing of my mind.
  • After the chaos of last year and the subsequent neglect of my mental health practices because of time constraints, I’ve made it a priority to set alarms for twice a day where I can force myself to take a break for 30 minutes and engage in mindfulness practices. It’s so easy to get sucked into the obligations of life but creating that space for my mental health has helped me find my balance.
  • Finding the joy in my life and in the things and people who make me happy is something that I put a focus on this year as well. Once I realize how much my cup is being filled by something, I try to recreate that feeling and make more time for those moments. I often think of the last time something brought me joy and do my best to keep that feeling alive.
  • Starting small in the way I work on my mental health made such a difference for me as I attempted to navigate managing my mental health on my own. I realized that managing my stress doesn’t have to be held to this one big tangible thing like therapy but instead can be worked on through a series of small things. I try to get creative and find small moments that I can protect my mental health or manage my stress like putting on a podcast while I do my skincare routine. It seems trivial but it does in fact work wonders.
  • Staying active certainly is not the only thing that I lean on to help manage my mental health, but it certainly contributes to my ability to destress. Staying active in any way is as good for your mind as it is your body. It not only releases endorphins into your brain but it can relieve stress, assist in emotional health, and even help you sleep better which has always been an issue for me and has contributed to my struggling mental health in the past.

My journey with my mental health began in ignorance but now that I am more aware of what is out there, I know that there is more to maintaining it than sitting for one therapy session a couple times a month. The fact is that there are many other ways we can invest in our mental health beyond therapy and while these may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is important for us to continue these conversations on managing mental health in order for us to explore our options and develop skills that can contribute to our success and happiness. Most importantly, talking about what we’ve learned in our mental health journeys helps others feel seen and less alone. If I had grown up knowing that I had access to tangible tools and tips that could’ve helped me in my most formative years, I probably would’ve spent less time feeling like an outcast or as though something was wrong with me. I hope these tools give you a peace of mind that we all deserve, some inspiration to keep moving forward and most importantly I hope they remind you that you are not alone in your journey.

Start your journey to better mental health

Everyone needs support at one time or another during their life, which is why accessible and effective therapy matters. GreenShield Cares is here to help connect people to the therapy that’s right for them.

The GreenShield Cares program’s personalized counselling matching tool includes over fifty matching options, including culture, race, language, and religion, to ensure women can find a mental health professional who shares and/or can relate to their identity and lived experiences. The program offers virtual access to psychotherapists, Masters of Social Work, psychologists and other professionals whose specialties range from sex therapy, relationship counselling, and trauma, including therapists who specialize in Indigenous mental health services. Intersectionality is at the forefront of the matching process, and the diversity of Canadians is reflected in the diversity of the program’s certified practitioners, with hundreds of the program’s certified practitioners have identified as a person of colour, Indigenous, or Black.

Book your free therapy today