The month of May is filled with celebratory days: Star Wars Day, Cinco de Mayo, National Teacher’s Day, Mother’s Day, Ramadan beings, etc. One event that gets overshadowed by these festive days-Mental health awareness- which dedicates 31 days to promoting, informing and advocating for mental health.

Mental Health Awareness In Men

Michael Phelps, American Gold Medal Winner, spoke opening, and honestly about his mental health, on national television, while promoting an Ad with Talkspace. He mentions how talking helps. In an interview with Cision, Phelps explains, “As I started opening up and talking about my issues, I felt strength not vulnerability; and when I discovered I could speak with a therapist by text, web, or video-wherever I might be- it was an amazing feeling of empowerment.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S., which converts to 43.8 million, experience mental illness each year.

michael Phelps Talkspace
Michael Phelps in talkspace ad

Males are more likely to suffer from a disorder than women but, are less likely to seek help. Deborah Legge, PhD, licensed mental health counselor in Buffalo, explains, “There are certain aspects of any job that can contribute to or exacerbate depression. Folks with high-stress jobs have a greater chance of managing it if they take care of themselves and get the help they need.” In an interview with two individuals working in the entertainment Industry, provide additional information regarding mental health.
In high paying jobs, there is an equal, if not higher, amount of stress that coincides. The entertainment industry for example, is just one of many stress heavy fields. Natalie Rodriguez, a Southern California Native, Graduate from CSULB’s class of 2014 and director/writer, talks about mental health.

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The Extraordinary Ordinary

In an interview with GREY Journal, Rodriguez expresses why her directional feature, Extraordinary Ordinary, was necessary to the mental health community. Natalie Rodriguez is a mental Health advocate; her written work explains the importance of seeking help and being honest with oneself about self-care and one’s limits.

poster for extraordinary ordinary film about mental health

While on set, Rodriguez was honest and open to her cast and crew about the content being shot. Rodriguez, explains, “A month prior to production, I had a lot of one on one meetings. I did encourage everyone to take care of themselves; get some rest, go eat, text me if you have any questions- I wanted to make sure everyone wasn’t feeling burned out.” A critical component, especially in an industry where her position is mainly male-driven. It was imperative for Rodriguez to direct because, “Rejection. The more NO’s I got, definitely made me want to try it. The more NO’s I got I was fortunate enough to have colleagues to support.”

Natalie Rodriguez
Culver City Film Festival for short, “Howard Original.”
Photo by Steve Escarcega

Extraordinary Ordinary, follows the story of 3 young adults trotting through college while experiencing mental health issues. A precise notion Rodriguez nails, is male stigmatization on mental health. The male lead Alex, portrayed by, Alex Montalban gives us a glace, of someone with anxiety and depression.

Treating symptoms early on can make significant shifts in a person’s life. In an interview with an editor
[a source who would like to remain anonymous] for a well-known online streaming company, comments, “Therapy has improved my life. By accepting the fact that there could be something severely wrong and seeking help, [that] makes life bearable.” In his experience, he mentions, “It was hard pill to swallow. My personal life definitely affected my work. When I was at work I worried about home and when I was at home I worried about work. I felt my life slipping through my fingers like sand and I knew that’s not the life I wanted for myself. I want to be present with my kids.”

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Editor has been working in the entertainment industry well over ten years now and has noticed the conversation slowly shift. More individuals are coming forth, opening, discussing the importance of seeking help. Time and time again, we see heartbreaking stories of musicians, actors, comedians, who succumbed too early due to the state of their mental health.
The conversation is not pleasant, and it shouldn’t be. These matters aren’t supposed to be taken like a grain of salt; mental health is just as important as physical health if not more. Seeing a psychologist in person, is not the only option, there are other sources- via mobile application, self-help books, online websites (Therapy for Men), community support groups, etc.

Editor suggests changing the conversation, from something wary to something in the way of a flow chart. Mental health affects everyone, it’s everyone’s struggle, if it’s not you, it’s your sister, neighbor, aunt, or even significant other. Changing the conversation in the workplace is crucial, and helps employees acknowledge the symptoms that can arise from their line of work.

Man speaking to self-help group, drama-therapy-for-depression-P4EU6BU
Man speaking to self-help group

Mental Health Resources

One way to change the conversation is by introducing resources in the workplace-where employees feel they can reach out to someone. A vital misconception is the interchangeably phrases, mental disorder and mental illness, for more information visit . A disorder is: a disturbance or derangement that affects the function of mind or body. An illness: a pathological condition of a body part, organ, or system resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress. Illness is also characterized by identifiable group of signs or symptoms.

Vantage point, suggests, “Laughter as Therapy an article that provides insightful information into the use of laughter.  The author [Laughter as Therapy] claims that laughter is what our body uses to battle the negative aspects that appear within us such as anxiety, depression and personality disorders.”

“It is also suggested that laughter can give the same effects as cocaine, giving the brain a feel good sense that signals the rest of the body as well to feel good.”

Vantage Point

Mental health is an ongoing battle. Everyone is affected by it, in way or another. Be alert, and conscious of the signs. The only way to stop the stigma is to have an honest conversation. People can still live their lives and contribute a part.

For more information regarding Natalie Rodriguez’s Extraordinary Ordinary or if you or someone you know would like to seek professional help, refer to the links below.