Exactly six years ago today, March 25, 2016, I launched Five on Friday. Inspired by a tradition I hold dear – Friday night dinners at home where conversations are animated and varied – I wanted to bring the topic of mental health to the table. According to Jewish tradition, as the sun sets on Friday, Shabbat begins. It is time to take a deep breath, pause and pivot from the busyness of life to make space for reflection. My hope was to bring mental health into that reflection.
Mental illness is the leading cause of disability around the world. Mental health is the strongest predictor of wellbeing and life satisfaction. But stigma makes it a taboo topic for many, and six years ago conversations about mental health were few and far between. My aspiration with Five on Friday was – and continues to be – to break the silence and give voice to the many ways that mental health issues are part of the world around us, integral to our everyday lives, and in urgent need of attention and reflection. My hope was that it would catalyze and advance the conversations we have about mental health with each other – around the table and around the world.
1. 302 Posts. I am a slow reader and an even slower writer. What was I thinking when I launched Five on Friday? At some unconscious level, I must have been daring myself. Every week. On time. Hit send. It has been an exercise in overcoming the fear of putting my ideas, personal experiences, and intimate emotions out to the universe. It has been a practice that has helped me hone my use of language to express and own what it is I really want to say. It has been a discipline that has helped me appreciate that practice is at the heart of mastery.
2. Dozens of Topics. Why Five on Friday – feelings – laughter – collective safety – gratitude – sleep – trauma – love – opioid addiction – why we cry – ICD-11 – pomp and circumstance – power of community – stereotypes and stigma – sexual assault – workplace mental health – dementia – suicide – aging – adolescent brain development – technology – stress and coping – food & brain connection – dogs – eating disorders – social media – superstition – holidays – honeybees – COVID – feminism – hugs – light – community mental health – mental health at the movies – anxiety – nextgen – psilocybin – good reads – ketamine – like minds – difficult conversations – kindness – grief – recovery – acceptance – vacation – inequality – hope – access to care – go where the people are – longing – lobotomy – women in mental health – healing – happiness industry – green space – seasonal affective disorder – memory – vaping – touch – advocacy – burnout – gender and sexuality – mental health policy and more. The complete collection of Five on Friday can be found here.
3. 10,000+ Weekly Readers. Thank you for subscribing, and thank you for helping me grow the readership of Five on Friday. Reaching an audience that spans worldwide and bridges generations is enormously gratifying. When you share and forward posts that you like to friends, family, colleagues, and classmates, or add Five on Friday to a social media platform, you amplify the message. In doing so, you are playing an essential role in helping to change the narrative around mental health.
4. Not a Week Without Comments. After I hit send, I wait and wonder. Who will read it this week? For whom will it resonate? Who will reach out to me? Some weeks I hear from a lot of people. Some weeks just a few. Every week I hear from someone. A special thanks to those of you who I hear from regularly. Naturally, I love the love, but I also greatly value those of you who have written to ask for clarification, challenge me, and even correct me. When you comment, it tells me that you are thinking and caring about these issues, which is at the heart of Five on Friday’s mission.
5. My Hope. In the same way that writing Five on Friday has stretched me professionally and personally, I hope that it has expanded your understanding and enhanced your comfort in talking about mental health with others. We are witnessing a moment in history where mental health issues are being brought to the fore. Yet, we still have a long way to go to protect and promote mental health and provide timely, affordable, meaningful access to care for those in need.
We have traveled far and wide over these past six years. Thank you for being part of this journey – raising awareness and understanding, initiating and expanding conversations, and taking action that advances mental health – locally and globally. Onward!