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Common Humanity and Mental Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has recognized Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM) every May to increase awareness about mental health’s vital role in our overall health and well-being.  SAMHSA declares on its website that it has recognized every May as Mental Health Awareness Month for the past 20 years, but it also states that the month was first established in 1949.  Wow!  That was a long time ago!  Much has changed concerning views on mental health in 75 years!  The stigma surrounding mental health has most certainly improved over the years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when many were sharing common symptoms associated with fear, isolation, change, and division, among other concerns.  However, many still fear revealing that they struggle with emotional concerns.   SAMHSA has listed several myths and facts about mental illness to help with this stigma found at this link:

Common Humanity is a term used by Self-Compassion guru Kristin Neff, Ph.D.  It is one of the primary elements of self-compassion described as “seeing our struggles and failures as core components of what makes us human, rather than as personal failings that separate and isolate us from other people whom we imagine are doing better than we are.”

When we can recognize common humanity, we are more likely to also recognize that we all struggle with varying degrees of stress, anxiety, depression, feelings of loneliness, fear, lack of trust, or a variety of other symptoms that make our lives difficult at times.  This sums up our mental health.  Certainly, some of us struggle more than others and may benefit from working with a professional, but some just need to acknowledge and accept that feelings are a normal part of life, and we all struggle at times.  For more information about self-compassion and self-compassion practices, go to

If you are reading this and identify with emotional challenges but don’t know where to turn or if talking with family and friends isn’t helping, please reach out to our Counseling Department. We are happy to provide a consultation to discuss your concerns and determine whether our program is a good fit for you.

Joy Koeppen, LCSW, CBIS, BIS Counseling Manager
Brain Injury Services Counseling Program


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