We shouldn't be questioning why mental health is so important. It is the center of everyones life. We operate from within to help us navigate the external. Mental Health is beyond important, it is crucial for our survival.
I am a big advocate for mental health, because I've experienced and still am experiencing the effects of having mental health problems. SO let's delve deeper into the vast topic of mental health.
First things first, what is mental health?
There isn't one official definition, because it is subjective, and specific to the individual how they choose to define their mental health. However, according to Adam Felman in an Medical News Today Article, Adam defined mental heath as a "cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. People sometimes use the term “mental health” to mean the absence of a mental disorder."
As human we are always thinking, experiencing emotions and forming patterns, behaviours and many other things, and all of them take place in our mind. Our brains can process 50 TASKS at once, not to mention the things being processed subconsciously. Our minds store so much information, it is vital that we are find ways to look after it, and keep it healthy.
Question: How do you define mental health?
Did you know one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at a point their lives. That may seem small when you try to put it into perspective, but that's a lot of people, and remember a lot of people don't always display signs of suffering, or tend to suffer in silence, so how do we know it's not a lot more people?
Question: Have you or anyone around you suffered from mental health problems?
How do we identify when someone is suffering from mental health problems?
According to MentalHealth.gov. early warning signs of mental health problems include (but aren't limited to):
Eating or sleeping too much, or even too little.
Pulling away from friends, family and usual activities.
Having low or no energy
Having unexplained aches and pains
Feeling hopeless or helpless
An inability to do daily tasks.
Experiencing severe mood swings.
The list goes on, I look at the list, and can already say yes I have experienced all of those things and more, and yes I do still experience many of those things, even on my journey to bettering my mental health. For a long time, I experienced these things not attributing it to my mental health, not identifying that this could be a problem to do with something other than my body, in my eyes I was healthy I was active, not eating terrible, but I still experienced all these things.
People say it's not good to self-diagnose, and whilst I think everyone should seek a professional opinion if they feel comfortable doing so, looking at the list and feeling like, 3 of those 8 apply, take small steps to identify why you feel those things. If nothing is working and it's getting worse, and 3 turns to 6 applying to you, seek out a professional.
Why we need to continue talking about mental health.
When I was younger, having any form of mental health issues was a taboo, it was unspoken off. To say you had mental health problems to people around me mean't the extremes of the extremes, but actually it wasn't the things you saw in the moves with people in straight jackets. It was completely different, and as I've grown I've been blessed with understanding it more in it's many forms. It's not wanting to get out bed, but not knowing why, it's not wanting to speak to anyone or not wanting to go to the shop to buy milk. It was the little things.
We need to remove this stigma that surrounds a mental illness, because it's real, it's not a scary thing it happens. We need to start normalising it so people don't continue to suffer in silence, so we don't need months of awareness to highlight the realities, because people acknowledge it on a day to day basis. People are educated and there are steps we take as a society to improve the mental health. To remove the pressures, the ideologies the things causing and putting a strain on peoples mental health.
Ways to open open up the dialogue surrounding mental health:
I acknowledge it can be difficult to speak about your mental health, because you are letting someone in on something that we regard as private, I know for a fact my thoughts stored within, most of them are private to me. However, here are some ways to talk about your mental health.
Talk to someone who doesn't know you, this could be a therapist or a psychologist who is experienced in these conversations, It's not easier talking to family or friends about you inner thoughts, especially if it could be linked to them.
Start journaling, writing it down will allow you to put your thoughts on a paper, then you can read back and understand and if you comfortable share this with someone and discuss.
Similar to journaling, you can write a letter, everything you wish to discuss and talk about and send it someone, have the dialogue in way you feel comfortable.
Remember you aren't alone, remember 1 in 4 people are also suffering, and that figure is an estimate, you'll be surprised who you speak to and realise that they understand what you are feeling or experiencing.