TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
We have adopted dysfunctional coping styles that employ avoidance, denial, self-blame, or detrimental ways of coping such as alcohol or drug abuse.Reson Sindiyo
Mental health or psychological well-being is an integral part of an individual’s capacity to lead a fulfilling life, including the ability to form and maintain relationships, to study, work or pursue leisure interests, and to make day-to-day decisions about education, employment, housing or other choices. Disturbances to a person’s mental well-being can adversely compromise this capacity and the choices made, leading not only to diminished functioning at the individual level but also to broader welfare losses for the household and society (WHO, 2013). So, being aware and appreciating the impact of this statement why then do we not give our mental health the priority and attention it deserves? In today’s fast paced world which is dictated and determined by external factors what are you doing to protect and care for your mental health?
We invest in physical appearance, material stuff and high tech expensive security gadgets and personal to protect us and our precious possessions safe. It seems like it is now a necessity to have the latest fashion, drive the coolest cars, hang out and live in the trendiest places, vacation in the hottest spots and be seen to interact with the “influencers” Yet in all this mental health takes a back seat, lowest of our priorities and definitely not worth investing in.We prioritise our finances to suit and accommodate external factors even as we zealously strive for external validation and stimulation. Stress, anxiety, fear, low self-esteem, anger are just some of the mental health challenges that we will experience due to the demands we place upon ourselves real or imagined.
We have adopted dysfunctional coping styles that employ avoidance, denial, self-blame, or detrimental ways of coping such as alcohol or drug abuse. Harmful coping mechanisms have been adopted which would include aggression, passive aggression, suppression and going to the extremes with your emotions. These may appear in the form of outbursts or fits of rage.
None of these really address or deal with the mental health. Truth be told we can meet all the benchmarks set by today’s superficial society, but the goals will keep changing just as day eventually turns to night. Another undeniable fact is that all the external validation and satisfaction is transitorily until the next best, latest, trendiest, new thing comes along. So, the sense of satisfaction or achievement is as fleeting as a bucket of ice and will constantly need to be replaced.
Which brings me to the question how then can one begin to take personal responsibility and accountability for their mental health and why is it necessary? Protecting our mental health is always important. As anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental health condition will know, investing in our mental health is essential to returning to our full potential. Your mental health and wellbeing is just as important as your physical health.
Positive mental health and wellbeing enables you to function well, have meaningful social connections, positive self-esteem and be better able to cope with life’s ups and downs.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can invest in your mental health.
- Identify a social support system/ or individual that you feel safe and secure in sharing your personal challenges
- Learn to take time to listen, understand and reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Identify them and acknowledge them just as you would want others to do for you, first do for yourself
- Invest in workshops, training, books or talks that have a purpose and are intentional on matters to do with mental health wellbeing.
- Work on the internal you by allowing yourself to be accountable and responsible for your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. In other words, let your internal voice, feelings and thoughts determine your mental health not external validation or stimulation.
And finally, just as you invest in the material things also take time to invest in your mental health by seeking help or guidance from a professional therapist/counsellor. Potential benefits of counselling include
- Improvement in communication and interpersonal skills.
- Greater self-acceptance.
- Increased self-esteem.
- Improved self-expression and management of emotions.
- Relief from depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
Mental health and well-being are fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life. They directly underpin the core human and social values of independence of thought and action, happiness, friendship and solidarity. On this basis, the promotion, protection and restoration of mental health can be regarded as a vital concern of individuals, communities and societies throughout the world (WHO,2013)