Jewel: We’re taught dental hygiene, we should be taught mental hygiene


I know Jewel as a pop/folk musician from the 1990s who spoke to my angsty teenage self. But Jewel sort of dropped off for me in the early aughts. Recently, I discovered that Jewel created the Inspiring Children Foundation which helps at risk youth get access to mental health care. In an interview for Yahoo! Life’s well being series, Jewel talked about her new role as an advocate and board member of mental and brain health nonprofit One Mind. Jewel said it is time to end the stigma and shame around mental fitness. Jewel said that nobody feels shame when they get a cavity and need a dentist but we feel shame when we need help mentally. Jewel went on to say that we should be taught mental hygiene like we are taught dental hygiene. Below are a few more highlights from Yahoo!

“Our goal is to use science, use data, use society [to] create connection all around mental health so that anybody struggling with mental health issues — which is one in four people — [is] able to have thriving, happy lives,” says Jewel, who also sits on the organization’s board. “We all have to understand mental hygiene, because we have a brain! It’s nothing strange. We’re taught dental hygiene, and I think it’s bizarre we’re not taught mental hygiene.”

She adds, “Nobody’s ashamed when they have a cavity — why are we ashamed when we’re struggling with negativity or anxiety or bouts of depression? And why aren’t we taught mental hygiene? It’s so ridiculous to me that that’s an issue, and that we lost [our coping skills]. What do we do with pain? How do we handle having thoughts? … My advocacy work with One Mind is really about that.”

“It was scary,” the singer, born Jewel Kilcher, says of that time. “And so it was then that I really realized I had three choices: kill myself, stay how I was or change — and I wanted to change. And so my entire life has been: All right, I don’t want to kill myself. Now what? What am I going to do different today than I did yesterday, so that tomorrow can be different?”

She took a “studious” approach to improving her mental health, taking notes and experimenting with practices that, over time, she’s built into an emotional fitness “curriculum” which she now shares on her Never Broken website.

“My goal was to have a better life, have a better experience,” she says of developing techniques to help her cope. “And so I needed to find things that I could practice, because mindfulness won’t change your life. Meditation won’t change your life. It just builds the muscle of being consciously present.”

[From Yahoo!]

I love everything Jewel is doing with her advocacy work around mental health. I wholeheartedly support people seeking mental health services. Going to a therapist has truly saved my life and has helped me process a lot of my trauma and issues. I also agree with Jewel about teaching people mental hygiene. Treating mental health fitness as a very normal process like exercise and biology can help alleviate the stigma around the subject.

Black people face many obstacles when seeking mental healthcare due to the specific stigma in the black community around the subject. Creating a mental health fitness routine like yoga, meditation or whatever it may be, is key to sustainable mental health. And the earlier we incorporate these routines into our lives, the better. I like the idea of One Mind as an organization because they state that they use science and data. I will continue to follow this organization now that it is on my radar. In the meantime, I’m gonna see if I can meditate for an hour because that sounds like a wonderful challenge for me. I wonder if sleep counts?

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