Mental health. An umbrella term used to summarise a variety of issues, disorders, and illnesses, we are referring to our psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Our mental wellbeing isn’t something that has just appeared out of nowhere, we have been concerned with mental health since 1949 when mental health awareness was set up to address and break the stigmas around mental health that have formed from miseducation, social media, and past mental health practices. Recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns mental health has become a central pillar of societal concern. In the UK 1 in 4 will experience a mental health problem of some kind in each year and 1 in 6 will report a mental health problem of some kind in a week. For example, issues such as anxiety or depression or neurodevelopment conditions such as autism, ADHD and learning disabilities.
It’s important to be aware of our mental health not only for our own wellbeing but the wellbeing of those around us. Our mental health influences our day-to-day life by impacting how we interact with people, our decision making and how we respond to stress making it all that more important to be able to boost our mental health.
Benefits of good mental health
While happiness and mental stability are highly interconnected it’s not the only reason why we should all no matter our age strive for good mental health. For example, good mental health can help us:
· Cope with the stresses of life.
· Be physically healthy.
· Have good relationships.
· Make meaningful contributions to your community.
· Work productively.
· Realize your full potential.
UK most common mental health issues
· Mixed anxiety and depression = 8 in 100 people
· Generalised anxiety disorder = 6 in 100 people
· Post-traumatic stress disorder = 4 in 100 people
· Depression = 3 in 100 people
· Phobias = 3 in 100 people
· Obsessive- compulsive disorder = 1 in 100 people
· Panic disorder = fewer than 1 in 100 people
You're not alone when it comes to mental health
Everyone in some way and at some point in the life struggles with the mental health as it is something that effects everyone throughout their lifetime.
I experience and struggle with anxiety, I remember when I was young feeling sick to the point of tears whenever school got too stressful, ending the school year with weeks’ worth of absences. My parents not knowing why I felt this way after the trips to the doctors confirmed I was physically healthy. It wasn’t until recently I even connected that it wasn’t me being ill but in fact my anxiety which made me feel that way. It’s still something I struggle with never having fully recognising it as anxiety and therefore never really learning a healthy way to cope with my anxiety.
Ways to boost your mental health.
While it’s important to take care of your mental health it can sometimes be hard to reach out for professional help. Personally, I have signed up for online mental help where we would speak over the phone before but never been able to keep up with it due to how anxious it made me feel often not being able to pick the phone up before the dial finished at the thought of speaking to someone I didn't know. While this may not be the case for everyone, I find it helpful to have alternate ways to improve my own mental health.
You should keep in mind when boosting your mental health to try what feels comfortable and not to forget to allow yourself time to find what works for you. Take small steps it’s not an overnight process try to find one or two things that feel achievable before moving to new ideas.
5 ways to improve your mental health:
· Try mindfulness - a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. It's been shown to help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings. This means that instead of being overwhelmed by your feelings, it becomes easier to manage them.
· Physical activity- It doesn’t have to be anything big like going to the gym every day, but it helps to get better sleep, happier moods and managing stress and anxiety.
· Try doing something creative- It can help distract you from difficult thoughts or feelings or help you process them. it could be anything drawing, playing a musical instrument, baking, or colouring in. it doesn’t matter what it ends up looking like focus on enjoying it.
· Spend time in nature. - It can help improve your mood and feel more relaxed not to mention it helps you to be more active and gets you away from technology.
· Try to get enough sleep.
Mental health ...is not a destination, but a process. its about how you drive, not where you are going.
It's an ongoing process and progress is not always linear but keep at it.