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Column: How to Be Well: A New Way to Think About Statistics

Happy Mental Health Awareness Month! While I’m tempted to remind you just how dire the state of mental health is, I want to do something different this year.

Especially because if you’ve been reading this column for a while, you’re hopefully at least somewhat familiar with the guiding statistics the Coalition uses to focus our work:

  • 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental health condition this year.
  • 46% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life.
  • 53.4% of Idahoans don’t get the mental healthcare they need.

If you’re anything like me, your eyes sort of glaze over or you feel overwhelmed by the immensity of those numbers. Neither of which promotes any sort of action or real change.

That’s why, here at the Coalition, we love reframing things. So I want to offer a new way of thinking about all this.

If 46% of Americans will experience a mental health condition at some point in their life, that means 54% won’t. That statical difference makes me think of a strategy I learned from Brene Brown called the Family Gap Plan.

She explains it like this: I talked to him [her husband] on the phone last night, and I said, “Look, I’m on the edge. I got a solid 15 right now.” And he said, “I was at 15, I’m up to 40.” We got a gap, 15 plus 40, 55, we got a 45 gap to 100% relationship, 100% parenting, 100%…We’ve got a gap. So, what’s the family gap plan?

Using this framework, mental health isn’t in a dire state. We just have a gap. A gap any one of us can work to close, especially since 54% of us are functioning just fine (most of the time).

We’re so much closer to healing than we think we are. If we all do one tiny thing to close the gap, to make a plan, to care for ourselves or others, we can change the statistics everyone trots out during May.

And it doesn’t have to be going to therapy, although we do love therapy when it’s needed. But closing the gap can be checking on a friend, reading a book, starting a new hobby, taking a nap, eating nourishing food, or getting involved in the community. 

We don’t have to give up or be overwhelmed. We just have to take one small step, then another to make ourselves or someone who’s struggling feel a little better.

What will you do to close the gap—not just this month—but regularly? Our community needs you to be part of the plan.

If you, or someone you know, need help with their mental health, let us know. We provide free and confidential support, as well as six free counseling sessions to qualified individuals. Call or text 208-354-6198, email, or get in touch with us. Our offices are staffed Monday-Friday from 9 am-4 pm. 

76 N Main Street, Suite 206, Driggs, ID 83422
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