World Mental Health Day holds a special place in my heart. It's a day when the world comes together to raise awareness, break down the stigma, and advocates for better mental health care.
The prevalence of mental health issues is an alarming wake-up call. I'm sure many of you, like me, have felt the weight of stress, anxiety, or sadness pressing upon your shoulders at some point. It's a reminder that we are not alone; millions face these battles daily.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression has claimed the top spot as the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting a staggering 280 million individuals. Anxiety disorders, too, have left their mark, affecting the lives of another 301 million people, making them the most common mental health disorders.
This year, as we approach October 10th, I want to share a piece of my own journey.
A few years ago, my life took an unexpected turn when a physical skin condition forced me to quit my full-time job. This condition didn't just affect my physical health but took a significant toll on my mental wellbeing. I found myself trapped in my own mind, where even the simplest tasks became monumental hurdles.
During this time, isolation became my constant companion. I withdrew from friends and family, convinced that I had become a burden to those around me.
To make matters even more challenging, this chapter of my life unfolded during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fear of infection, economic uncertainty, and social distancing further intensified the complexity of my experience.
Finding Inner Strength
Yet, amidst the silence and stillness of those days, something emerged —a soft, reassuring voice within me.
This inner voice, long drowned out by the relentless noise of the outside world, became my guiding light during those dark moments. It whispered encouragement, nudging me to seek help and to connect with a broader community for support. With the encouragement of my loved ones, I took the essential step in my path of recovery - I sought professional mental health help and assistance.
A Desire to Give Back As I progressed in therapy and started seeing positive changes in my life, a seed was planted in my heart. I felt a calling, a deep desire to give back and help others who were battling their own mental health issues. The compassion and empathy I had received from my therapist ignited something within me to be that source of support for others.
Venturing into Self-Discovery
Alongside this journey of recovery, I took a leap and launched a podcast to share my personal stories and struggles. Initially, it was my way of seeking emotional support and coping with my own challenges, but it later evolved into a platform that resonated with many others who were navigating similar struggles.
Subsequently, I founded "Chill By Nette," an online wellness community, which has been a work in progress for two years. This initiative was born out of a desire to make mental wellness knowledge more accessible and relatable to the public. In August 2021, I had the privilege of joining TikTok's Youth for Good Wellness Creator Team. Being a part of this team provided me with invaluable mentorship opportunities, as I received guidance from various Mental Health Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs).
From Struggles to Strength
My path towards becoming a therapist was not without challenges. I had to pursue the necessary education and training, which included completing a Master's degree in Counseling. During this time, I continued my own therapy sessions and participated in supervision to ensure that I was well-equipped to help others on their mental health journeys.
Today, I work full-time as the Wellbeing Lead at Actxa Wellness, curating science-backed holistic wellness curriculums and solutions for corporations.
As a supervised counsellor, I have the privilege of walking alongside individuals who are facing their own struggles. I am deeply humbled by the trust they place in me and am honoured to be a part of their healing process. My own experiences have given me a unique perspective and an understanding that goes beyond textbooks.
Lessons About Mental Health
Reflecting on my journey, one profound lesson stands out: It is during our most challenging moments that we discover our inner strength.
Mental health challenges don't define us; it's how we navigate through them that truly matters.
My own healing journey has become a source of strength and purpose, propelling me into a career where I can make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
Here are some other valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way:
Our mental wellbeing is interconnected with various aspects of wellbeing, including physical, career, financial, and social aspects.
We are never alone in our struggles—struggling is a common human experience.
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness but an act of courage. It takes immense strength to acknowledge that we can't carry the weight of our struggles alone.
Never underestimate the importance of social support networks— During our most vulnerable moments, the support and external validation from our loved ones become even more crucial.
The Power of Conversation
I'm sharing my story today because I believe in the power of simple conversations about mental health. When we speak openly about our own mental health, we create a space where others can do the same.
As World Mental Health Day approaches, I want to emphasise that we are all part of a larger community of individuals who have faced or are currently facing mental health challenges. Our stories, our struggles, and our recoveries matter.
In the end, it's our struggles that often lead us to our greatest strengths.
About the Writer
Jeannette Qhek is the Wellbeing Lead at Actxa Wellness, where she curates the wellness curriculum with relevant science-backed content. Extremely passionate about the psychology behind human behaviour, she is now pursuing her Master's in Counselling with Monash University. Her other passion is content creation, and she is part of Tiktok's team of Youth for Good Wellness Education. As part of this exciting journey, she created "Chill By Nette", an online wellness space to share her resources and learnings. Through sharing her voice and creativity, she hopes to make psychological concepts and wellness research knowledge more accessible and fun to the public.