Prioritising your Mental Health
Updated: Feb 25, 2021
Mental health is a critical component of our wellbeing yet many do not give it the attention or time it deserves.Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Our mental health can determine our behaviour, how we handle stress, the decisions we make, our relationships with others and as such, the quality of our life. In sum, Mental Health impacts every aspect of our lives. We can't expect to live our lives to the fullest without considering our mental health.
If you are an individual that is concerned about enhancing your quality of life; enriching your relationships, enhancing your interpersonal skills, building motivation and harnessing your potential, improving your mood, productivity and daily life skills - then you are concerned about your mental health.
There is nothing to be ashamed of, mental health is something applicable to every one of us. If you look at the statistics, mental illness is prevalent; An estimated 10% of the entire world's population has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, depression is the most common with 2-6% varying across countries (in Sri Lanka, it is estimated at 4.1% of the country's population - Ministry of Health, 2017). Even more alarming, according to NIMH statistics, one out of five persons in Sri Lanka suffers from a mental illness, and only 20% receive treatment. These figures have been increasing exponentially with the added burden of COVID-19.
Yet, despite its far-reaching impact on our day to day life, Mental health is still largely neglected. This is because there is a lack of understanding, and stigma surrounding mental health concerns that many people are reluctant to share their struggles or seek help. This is a grave problem within our society that needs to be addressed. Many people attribute Mental Health with being 'Crazy' or 'Possessed', else they think it indicates a personal weakness that should be dealt with privately. Others feel Mental Health is 'incurable' or speaking to a therapist will do little to solve their challenges. Regardless of the reason, all these beliefs are far from the truth and these myths need to be dispelled.
Think about this - You would not blame a person for having cancer or a heart diesease, then why would it be different when it comes to your mind? Our brain is a very complex and intricate organ impacting all functions of the body, including our interpretation of the world, governing our intelligence, creativity, emotion and memory, and embodying the essence of our mind and soul. Most mental illnesses arise as a result of impaired brain function - this could be related to brain injury, brain chemicals or your genetic makeup. Many people often overlook or deny the biological basis of mental health illnesses but it's important to remember - it is an illness and you should not judge or blame someone else as a result of their diagnosis.
It is also important to recognise that though there are biological factors, it does not mean medicine is your only option. Often, your mental health is a combination of biological, social and psychological factors. This includes your early childhood experiences, life stressors, family upbringing, trauma, your social circle and support system, your environment, your beliefs, cognitive biases, intelligence etc. It is an interaction of these factors that can mitigate or exacerbate your biological predisposition. If you consciously make an effort to practice self-care through healthy habits such as exercise, meditation, good nutrious food, avoid destructive behaviours ( substance abuse, anti-social behaviour, self-harm, etc.), deep breathing, positive affirmations as well as recognise your inner voice and try to develop a kind and empathetic tone with yourself and your thoughts - you can possibly protect or at least minimize the impact of any mental health concerns.
Mental health and mental illness are not interchangeable. Similarly to your physical health, there is a spectrum of conditions and symptoms that can be mild to very severe. In all cases, early interventions can lead to better outcomes. As you would exercise and eat healthy to avoid physical illness, you should practice the same for your mental health too. The more you neglect and ignore your mental wellbeing, the more difficult it will be for a professional to help you. Similarly, the impact of your mental health will be much greater, the longer you wait without addressing it. For example, many individuals with mental health concerns are likely to be less productive, have bad eating and sleeping habits, poor hygiene, anti-social behaviours, substance abuse, suicidal tendencies, poor inter-personal relationships, low self-esteem etc. These symptoms would only get worse overtime - you can become addicted, impair your daily functioning, decrease performance or ability to hold a job, ruin your relationships and in very extreme cases, could even lead to suicide.
So if you or a loved ones are suffering from mental health concerns - seek help today! As mentioned above, it does not have to be 'severe' or eligible for a diagnosis but merely feeling burnout, experiencing excessive stress, low mood, anxiety or changes in your sleeping or eating habits or use of substances - can all be very good reasons to seek support. Make sure you encourage others and speak openly about your challenges so that we can normalize mental health!
It is equally as important as your physical health.
Disclaimer: The following information is not a suitable replacement for therapy or professional help. Mental health is very complex and there are various individual differences due to circumstances, genetics and life experience. All information published has been generalised and done in good faith. However, we will not be liable for any actions taken as a result of this website/post. If you are facing mental health concerns, it is important you reach out to a professional. You may also contact us at email@example.com for further support.