Let’s Be Mental Health Aware! 23/05/2020
Everyone’s mental health is as vital as their physical health!
And just like poor physical health, poor mental health too can affect anyone.
People with good mental health deal with ups and downs of day to day living without feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope.
They are optimistic and feel good about themselves.
We are very good at acknowledging and understanding poor physical health, but when it comes to mental health, feeling low, tiredness or withdrawal from friends and activities may be brushed aside as ‘mood off’. This off mood or ‘mental flu’ is somewhat similar to malaise of body flu, (without the bugs of course). It could be a sign of an underlying mental health problem. And we need to be aware that people may need more help than just an advice of ‘sleep on it you will feel better the next day’.
Mental Health Awareness week falls between 18th to 24th this year.
The theme is kindness.
Kindness is an act of giving.
A genuine act of affection, doing something good for others, carried out in goodwill.
It restores connectivity and reduces isolation.
No matter how big or small, kindness does a lot of good.
Research shows every act of kindness goes a long way, contributing to increased happiness and greater wellbeing. Whether it’s bestowed upon those close to us, society broadly or on ourselves! The giver experiences bountiful emotions and the receiver, warmth of the heart.
The act of extending a helping hand or simply being there for someone in difficulty instantaneously makes the receiver feel supported.
Puts them at ease.
Makes them feel less isolated.
Someone’s caring nature can boost the confidence and emotional resilience.
It is uplifting for the receiver of kindness to know they are not alone.
Being sensitive to the needs of others can shift the focus away from ourselves. However big or small the kind act is, it is reflected in the boost of happiness and wellbeing of the giver. With every act of giving, the ‘reward centre’ in the brain lights up. The brain releases ‘endorphins’, the feel good chemicals, contributing to the joyful feelings associated with giving. The studies have found low levels of ‘cortisol’, the stress hormone, in people who regularly engage in acts of giving. They have also reported experiencing less anxiety and depression.
You can imagine what wonders the continuous supply of these feel good factors can do to your overall wellbeing; Every time you are involved in the act of giving!
Be it checking on someone feeling low, volunteering or simply lending an ear to a person who wants to talk about their struggling mind-set. Listening without being judgemental or wanting to immediately offer advice can help immensely.
Many people are afraid of opening up to their friends or family for the fear of being judged! The society is obsessed with this idea that everyone should ‘look happy’ and ‘have fun’ all the time. And people are trying harder and harder to ‘fit in’. Due to this increasing social pressure, people hold back expressing themselves and their true feelings. They are afraid of getting labelled as – ‘weak’, ‘boring’, ‘moaner ’or ‘attention seeker’.
Societal notion of ‘get on with it’ makes them suppress their emotions and how they truly feel. Resulting in an outward superficial reply of ‘I am fine’ even when they may not feel so fine inwardly. Many fear they may lose their jobs if they speak out.
In nutshell, people with mental health difficulty do not feel adequately supported. 8 million people in the UK suffer from anxiety, the most prevalent mental health disorder, which is highly treatable. And yet, the stigma around the condition prevents many to talk about it.
We have seen innumerable acts of kindness from people all over the world during the current global pandemic of coronavirus. And whilst social media and technology have emerged as ‘true saviours’ of humanity during these testing times, it makes me really sad when I hear some people put immense pressure on themselves just to be active on social media. Not realising they are subjecting themselves to heightened anxiety in the process.
I urge you to break the barriers around mental health and acknowledge it is as important as our physical health. Circumstances vary from person to person. No two Individuals will face the same set of issues.
Let’s make ourselves mental health aware!
Let’s de-stigmatise mental health.
Let’s avoid being judgemental.
Let’s refrain from making comments about people’s physical appearance.
Let’s use social media responsibly.
Let’s not ridicule anyone in difficulty.
Let’s extend kindness and that much needed understanding and support towards people who are struggling to cope.
Offer your helping hand.
If not much else, just hear them out patiently if you can!
And although we are nearing the end of this Mental Health Awareness Week, let the awareness journey continue for the rest of the year and beyond!