Highlight the Power of Coping Skills and Self-Care - Mental Health

Top Storytelling Tips

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  1. Self-care is not a luxury
    1. Minimize depictions of self-care that make it seem like an indulgence or luxury only for those who can afford it.
  2. Wide range of coping practices
    1. Show a broader range of self-care and coping practices with an emphasis on the positive impact they can have on our mental health.

The definitions and intersections of self-care, resilience, and coping can be confusing (see terms section for our definitions). Here’s one way to break it down. Self-care is what we integrate into our routine to proactively support our mental health. These practices can support our resilience, which is our ability to adapt and recover when we face challenges. But even if we are resilient, mental health challenges can be overwhelming, and coping skills are the ways we overcome, minimize, tolerate, or avoid that impact.

The main difference between self-care and coping is that self-care is generally used as a proactive way to support our mental health, while coping skills usually relate to specific challenges we are facing. For example, meditating each morning is a type of self-care, while stepping aside to do a short meditation after a difficult conversation at work or home would be a coping skill.

Self-care practices like journaling, mindfulness, and physical activity can proactively support mental health and build resilience.

While a growing body of data validates that emotional self-care techniques like mindfulness, gratitude practices, yoga, and journaling can improve our mental health and reduce negative feelings like depression and anxiety, many people aren’t integrating these practices into their daily routines. In media and storytelling, self-care is often portrayed as a luxury reserved for those with the time and money to embrace it. However, many forms of self-care are widely available and accessible to all — like writing in a journal or using emerging technology for meditation.

Look for opportunities to portray self-care as a way to support mental health, cope with challenges, and manage difficult feelings:

  • Help viewers understand the full range of self-care, coping practices, and strategies and show that what works can differ by individual.
  • Depict characters or cast members who use self-care alongside treatment options like talk therapy or medication to manage mental health conditions; avoid implying that self-care is a replacement for treatment for all mental health needs.
  • Minimize depictions of self-care that make it seem like an indulgence or luxury only for those who can afford it.
  • Refer to a mental health advisor to make sure portrayals of self-care are accurate and effective.

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more in part 6