What is mental health and why is it so important?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Mental health affects how we handle and react to stress, relate to others, and make choices in our lives. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood - mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health
Mental health difficulties can have lots of causes. For many people there is a complicated combination of factors – and we are all affected differently by certain events than others. How you react to bereavement will not be the same as a friend or relative.
The following issues could potentially result in a period of poor mental health:
childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect, social isolation or loneliness, experiencing discrimination and stigma, social disadvantage, poverty or debt, bereavement (losing someone close to you), severe or long-term stress, having a long-term physical health condition, unemployment or losing your job, homelessness or poor housing, being a long-term carer for someone, drug and alcohol misuse,domestic violence, bullying or other abuse as an adult
How can we maintain our mental health? Issues including work, diet, drugs and lack of sleep can all affect your mental health. Positive steps that you can take are :
Seek help and support from friends or health professional eg gp or counsellor by talking about how you are feeling, it may feel strange at first, you may be used to bottling up your emotions and thoughts,, sharing your emotions with someone you trust can be healing and improve your mental health.
Diet - eating well has been proven to have a beneficial impact on your physical and mental health, take the time to prepare a healthy meal rather than snacking or eating on the run.
Sleep - Skipping a few hours here and there can have an impact on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and more importantly your ability to handle stress. Over the long-term, chronic sleep loss can have a huge impact on your mental health and and how you cope with stress. Try and ensure that you have an adequate amount of sleep.
Staying Active - Even if you dislike exercise or cannot afford to go to a gym or exercise class - there is no doubt that exercise can benefit our physical and mental wellbeing - engaging with nature and the environment whilst outside can impact positively on your emotions and feelings. It can be 10 mins two or three times during the day or a 30 minute walk - both have the same benefits on how you feel.
Drugs and Alcohol - Drugs or alcohol are not a healthy way to manage difficult feelings or emotions, it can provide a temporary relief, masking the immediate pain. Long term dependence on drugs or alcohol can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.
I am not expecting you to try all the above at the same time, however maybe on one day take a walk, another day go to bed an hour earlier. If you chip away at developing new healthy routines one change at a time it becomes easier to maintain them medium to long term, so supporting your mental health