5 Important Things to Remember About Mental Health
The 10th October every year is World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day has a different theme each year, 2020 being to raise awareness for the lack of investment surrounding mental health services. It’s heartbreaking that in 2020, so much work still needs to be done to provide accessible mental health support, even when it is estimated that 1 in 4 people may experience some form of mental health struggle in their lifetime. Having struggled with anxiety from my teens, I’ve experienced the difficulty in accessing affordable mental health support. While there are private services from which I am lucky to have received help from, not everyone is in a position to afford private mental health support. With 2020’s World Mental Health Day theme in mind, here are 5 important things to remember about mental health.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert or medical professional in any way, these are just some of my own thoughts and feelings based on personal experience.
Mental health deserves the same level of support as physical health
Despite many pledges and promises over the years, mental health is still given equal treatment as physical health. The investments in mental health services compared to physical health is huge. In the UK, NHS waiting lists for mental health services can be months long.
What’s more, physical and mental health are connected. As someone who lives with long-term health conditions, my physical health can directly affect my mental health and vice versa. Bouts of stress can even trigger a flare up! For me, the two are 100% linked, but little attention is paid to this connection in mainstream health services.
Kindness costs nothing, and can make a real difference. If someone is going through a tough experience with their mental health, showing an act of kindness can provide a a genuine mental health boost.
What’s more, mental health battles can often occur behind closed doors, with people finding it hard to talk about their struggles for various reasons such as feeling ashamed or concerned about how it will affect their home and work life. Negative treatment of people is not something the world needs and can be a trigger for worsening mental health battles. The message is very simple. Be kind. You never know what someone is going through.
Kindness to yourself is also key. Day-to-day self-care is important. We have to look after ourselves as well as others, and the best way to do that is if we are taking steps to take care of our own mental wellbeing, and avoid burnout. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Different treatments work for different people
Just like living with IBD, when it comes to mental health, different treatments work for different people. No one should feel judged for seeking mental health support.
Home self-care practices such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, journaling, and nature can work and provide huge benefits for many.
Sometimes we need some external help though. If treatments such as counselling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, hypnotherapy, or any other form of mental health support work for you, then that is fine too.
Toxic positivity gets you nowhere
It’s impossible to have a positive mindset all the time. We experience all kinds of emotions that are completely natural as humans. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, sad, frustrated, any of these things which are deemed more negative feelings, saying ‘cheer up’ or ‘be positive’ won’t solve anything, neither will ignoring your feelings. This is something I’ve had to work on with my counsellor, and learn that it’s ok to experience all kinds of emotions, because avoiding them and letting them build up won’t improve the situation.
Reduce stigma and misconceptions
Mental health education needs improvement, both in schools and in home. Awareness of different forms of mental illness, how to spot the signs and care for people going through mental health battles all need to be improved to help reduce the stigma around mental health. More open discussions need to be had to help people who may be finding it hard to talk about their mental health.
There are also many misconceptions and misunderstanding surrounding mental health, which could lead to saying the wrong thing to someone and doing more harm then good.
Anxiety is not just worrying about something.
Depression is not just feeling a bit sad.
OCD is not just liking things to be tidy.
If you’re unsure about what a mental health condition involves, take the time to inform yourself or look at resources by mental health charities such as Mind and Mental Health Foundation.
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If you had a chance to tell the world something about mental health to raise awareness, what would it be?