The overall objective of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
Each of us can make a contribution to ensure that people dealing with problems concerning mental health can live better lives with dignity.
What Exactly is a Mental Illness?
A mental illness is a physical illness of the brain that causes disturbances in thinking, behavior, energy or emotion that make it difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of life. Research is starting to uncover the complicated causes of these diseases which can include genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, experiencing trauma and/or having another medical condition, like heart disease.
The two most common mental health conditions are:
- Anxiety Disorders – More than 18% of adults each year struggle with some type of anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder (panic attacks), generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobias.
- Mood Disorders – Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar depression, affect nearly 10% of adults each year and are characterized by difficulties in regulating one’s mood.
Every year one adult in four, along with one child in ten, will have a mental health issue. These conditions can profoundly affect literally millions of lives, affecting the capability of these individuals to make it through the day, to sustain relationships, and to maintain work.
The best way to deal with this stigma is through facts and a better understanding of mental health problems. From identifying the causes, pinpointing solutions, and ultimately recognizing that we are really dealing with medical issues.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on people’s mental health. Some groups, including health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions, have been particularly affected. And services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders have been significantly disrupted. Yet there is cause for optimism.
During the World Health Assembly in May 2021, governments from around the world recognized the need to scale up quality mental health services at all levels. And some countries have found new ways of providing mental health care to their populations. During this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign, we will showcase the efforts made in some of these countries and encourage you to highlight positive stories as part of your own activities, as an inspiration to others.
A bout of depression, family history of anxiety, or a nagging doubt that something isn’t quite right are all incentives to take care of your poor mental health; here are nine key areas to focus on:
- Take care of yourself – It’s important to take care of your physical health as this can affect your mind. Trying to keep a balanced diet whilst also drinking plenty of water can help your energy levels. Things like junk food, alcohol and some non-prescribed drugs can leave you feeling down.
- Exercise – Our mood is affected by chemicals in the body. Even gentle exercise can release ‘happy hormones’ that not only help us look and feel better, they can increase concentration and aid sleep.
- Sleep and rest – Our bodies heal when we sleep and it’s often easier to drift off when our mind is well rested. Therefore, take some time out during the day for a brisk walk or to meditate; anything you consider a break from your chores.
- Mindfulness – Ruminating over the past or worrying about the future is a constant drain on energy levels. To live in the moment, learn how to be mindful — you should find it a powerful skill once acquired.
- Engage in activities – Being part of a network of people who all help one another is uplifting in its own right. Give your time or attention to other people in a personal, professional or voluntary role and it can make you feel better about yourself as well as feel less isolated.
- Be kind to yourself – Be aware of your critical voice. When you are anxious or depressed you may well have a voice that tells you negative things about yourself. Be aware of this and notice the way that makes you feel and how it affects your behavior. Know that you can choose to do something different.
- Socializing – If you are kind to yourself it encourages others to treat you in the same way. Surround yourself with positive people who are there for you when you need them most. Just the connection with people who care can be all the comfort you need at times.
- Accept help – No matter how hard you try to live a healthy and self-compassionate life there will always be a time when you need help. Let close friends or family help you work through a problem.
- Therapy – The worst thing you can do is try to ignore a problem with mental health. Sign up for online therapy or a distinct approach to counselling, like cognitive behavioural therapy. Talking things through can help to keep your mind clear and your outlook positive
Wellbeing can mean different things to different people but some common features include having a sense of purpose, feeling good and functioning well, having control in your life and the options to change things if necessary, as well as achieving goals you set for yourself.
Mental fitness is important to maintaining your brain and your body healthy, especially as you age. It’s your mind that keeps your body functioning together and adequately. Opting for some essential practices that can put your mind on a healthy state is very important for a healthy mind. You can incorporate different exercises that can empower your intelligent quotient, emotional quotient, and spiritual quotient, as this will ensure the needed calmness and bliss in your life, which is pivotal for a healthy mind.
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