One in four adults and one in ten children will experience a mental health problem, each year. It could be a family member, a friend, a colleague, or you.
The pandemic has had a huge impact on everyones mental wellbeing. It has particularly affected health and other frontline workers, students, people living alone, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions.
This year’s World Mental Health Day (taking place on 10 October) is not only about raising awareness of the importance of good mental health, but also about improving mental health services and access to them.
However, it is also about more than just advocacy. It gives us an opportunity to look after our own mental health and provide support to others.
What is meant by good mental health?
As explained by the Mental Health Foundation, everyone experiences low times and stressful periods throughout their lives. It is how we are able to cope with these moments, which can make a difference.
“If you’re in good mental health, you can:
- make the most of your potential
- cope with life
- play a full part in your family, workplace, community and among friends.”
Everyone is different and everyone deals with things differently. The most important thing is to recognise that “it is okay to not feel okay” and talking about how you feel is a step towards improving your mental wellbeing.
Tips on looking after your own mental health
Talk about your feelings
It is not a weakness to talk about your thoughts and feelings. It really can help. Put the kettle on, make a tea and have an honest chat about how you are feeling.
You don’t need to be an ultra-marathoner. Go for a walk, dance around the house and get the heart pumping. Regular exercise helps you to sleep better and more importantly feel better.
We all know sugar and highly processed food, although tastes delicious, makes us feel awful in the long run. Eating a balanced diet of three meals a day, fuels our bodies and minds in the best possible way. Limiting caffeine and alcohol is also important to remain healthy.
Recognise the importance of relationships
Friends and family can help support you through difficult times. They can provide different perspectives to your thoughts and worries. Of course, it’s also important to recognise if someone is having a negative impact on you. If that is the case, it might be best to take a step away from that person and think about whether you can continue the relationship.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you feel that you need more professional support, seek it out. There are counsellors, support groups, charitable organisations, local council, Citizen’s Advice and your GP to name a few, that are here to help.
Take a tea break
Step away and take five minutes to yourself. Sometimes it can take just a few minutes to help de-stress, sometimes longer is needed, but always try to have some ‘me’ time.
Take part in an activity you enjoy
It’s a good idea to do something that is just for you. Whether it’s a sport, a hobby or just 15 minutes of a crossword. Activities can help take your mind away from worries and give you a sense of purpose and achievement.
Why not arrange a tea and talk?
Get your loved ones together over tea and cake and give them the space to talk about their mental health.
It’s also a nice idea to donate, whatever you can, to charities that offer support to those with mental health problems. For example, Mental Health UK is running ‘The Big Mental Health Get Together‘ on 10 October. It’s a chance to “come together with others, be that family, friends or colleagues, to support and celebrate mental health”.