As we join the rest of the word in celebrating World Mental Health Day, I would like to encourage you to mind your mind; not just yours but also that of the people around you. Minding your mind is about taking good care of your mental health just as you take good care of your physical health. At the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, MFMH, the fist Mental Health Day was celebrated in 1992. World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about what mental health is. The World Health Organisation, WHO, states in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” An important implication of this definition is that mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. By mental disorders I am referring to the various Addictions, Phobias, Personality Disorders, Autism, Schizophrenia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Intellectual Disability (Mental Retardation) and the like. Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal
stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence to late adulthood. At any time during the course of our lifespan, one may experience mental health problems during which one’s thinking, mood, and behaviour could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry, and life experiences, such as trauma or abuse.
- What can we do to improve our mental health?
Taking good care of our physical and spiritual self automatically improves our emotional and mental health. is implies eating a well-balanced diet, practicing good sleep hygiene, interrupting our predominantly sedentary lifestyles with a good dose of physical exercise.
- Minding your mind and helping others do the same is really simple.
Talk about your feelings. It can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.
- Take a break! It could be a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some “me time”.
- Do something you are good at or better still, do more of what makes you happy. Ask yourself, what do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem. Accept yourself for who you are. We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn.
- Give of yourself. Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need.
- Quiet your mind. Meditation and prayer are nourishment for the soul and mind. Notice how blessed you are and be thankful. Forgive yourself where you have fallen short and extend the same grace to those who have trespassed against you. Practicing forgiveness reduces the voice of your inner critic (yourself) and makes you less critical of others. Showing empathy on yourself and
on others is a soothing balm for the minds.
- Get Help. Contrary to popular thinking, getting help when you need it is a sign
of strength and maturity.
ese are by no means an exhaustive list of things to help us mind our minds. What can we do to improve the mental health of those around us, especially those suffering from mental disorders?
Treating people with dignity, no matter how different they are from us, is a huge step in the right direction. Dignity refers to an individual’s inherent value and worth and is strongly linked to respect, recognition, self-worth and the possibility to make choices. Being able to live a life with dignity stems from the respect of basic human rights. is involves freedom from violence and abuse; freedom from
discrimination and stigmatization; autonomy and self-determination; inclusion in community life; and participation in policy-making. This brings me to this year’s theme: “Dignity in Mental Health: Psychological & Mental Health First Aid for All”. Let’s get the conversation started about mental
—Happy Mental Health Day, Teley.