Don’t rely solely on self-care

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There’s no face mask available to mask your mental health

By Roshni Riar, Staff Writer


The practice of self-care has been steadily exploding into popularity, attracting people with its ease and potential “cure-all” effects. Just google “DIY self-care” and numerous lists of essential oil blends for anxiety and depression will show up.

Need to forget about the not-quite-physical, ever-present pain in your chest? Here, try this lip scrub.

Can’t stop your mind from racing uncontrollably? Here’s a funky breathing exercise!

We’ve all tried popular means of self-care to pull us out of funks; I can admit I’ve tried just about every home remedy there is in hopes of decreasing my anxieties and depression. I’m not saying we should feel guilty about doing so, since that’s what these tips are there for—to feel better. However, if you feel compelled to try some self-care tricks because you’re struggling with mental health concerns, I don’t think they’re going to erase or fix your underlying issues, despite how much you want them to.

While I do believe that it is important to practice self-care regularly, I think it should be supplementary to scheduled, professional mental health check-ins. Self-care should be something that we use to help us unwind from the stresses of day-to-day life, not as a means of overcoming our mental health concerns all on our own.

The popularization of DIY remedies has made it seem like you can do anything yourself. While you absolutely can address mental illness and stop it from overtaking your life, it’s okay to need and seek help to make those first steps in recovery. I just don’t believe that help can come from a coconut oil hair mask with patchouli. Besides, seeking professional help and seeing a doctor to figure yourself out is self-care—it just doesn’t seem as exciting without all the fun, crafty elements to it.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s 2017-2018 Annual Report revealed that two-thirds of young people across Canada will not seek help for their mental illness—even though for 7o percent of those afflicted, the symptoms started as early as adolescence. This statistic is what really bothers me; young people often don’t reach out to get the help they need.

Despite movements like #BellLetsTalk that encourage people to share their struggles and experiences, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness. I know that for myself, it caused me to turn inwards and try anything I could to fix the way I was feeling at home. While a lot of people practice self-care just to feel good and give themselves a little boost in the middle of a busy week, there are plenty who turn to it desperately in place of crucial help.

I get that it’s incredibly daunting to even have to think about therapy, doctors, and everything that comes with finding proper care and support, but there are plenty of resources out there to help you. Find out where the mental health service centre in your city is—you can self-refer if you don’t have a family doctor. Go to a counsellor on campus to help you figure out a plan, or even buy yourself a cognitive behavioural therapy workbook to fill in on your own.

While face masks, essential oils, and candles are great to help you relax, they aren’t going to stop you from feeling these feelings again. We can’t rely on DIY fixes to chase away mental illnesses if we aren’t treating them properly. Hoping that a bubble bath will get rid of the nagging sense of dread inside of your chest is like putting a tiny bandage on a cut that needs stitches. It might help you forget for a moment, but that pain isn’t going anywhere until you face it head-on and seek help.