“Happiness is a state of mind”, goes the saying. This underlines the direct connection between mental health and happiness. While there is growing awareness about maintaining good physical health, we are often hesitant to talk about mental health. Mental health management is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, caring for the brain, the most complex organ that makes us humans the supreme race on this planet is a matter of great pride! World Mental Health Day, observed every year on the 10th of October, is an initiative of the World Federation of Mental Health and the World Health Organization to raise awareness on mental health issues.
- Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental problems.
- Worldwide, over 800,000 people commit suicide every year.
Battling the biggest barrier to mental health – social stigma
When an illness is associated with a stigma, it aggravates the pain and agony felt by the patients and their families. The fear of social isolation drives people to hide their condition; they don’t seek timely medical help. Family members too don’t discuss these issues in the open; many remain in a state of denial until it is too late. To remove the stigma associated with mental illnesses, it is important for us to talk openly about mental health and actively support people around us with mental health conditions. The Mental Health First Aid Action Plan was developed to guide people to recognize and assist people who are developing mental health problems or are in a mental health crisis situation. Here is how you can help people with mental health issues:
1. Approach the person, assess and assist with any crisis. : Approach the person with care, make the meeting comfortable and assist them as necessary. Always respect the person’s privacy and confidentiality.
2. Listen non-judgmentally: Listen to their distressing emotions and thoughts empathetically before offering guidance.
3. Give support and information: Timely information about their condition, emotional support along with the hope of recovery and practical help with tasks can go a long way in making the person feel more comfortable with their situation.
4. Encourage the person to get appropriate professional help: Explain options like medication, counseling or psychological therapy. Assistance with vocational and educational goals, income or accommodation can also aid treatment / recovery.
5. Encourage other supports: Encourage the person to use self-help strategies and actively seek support from friends, family, and people who have recovered from similar health challenges.
Mental Well-being ought to be on Your Mind:
While empathy and compassion towards those suffering from mental health illnesses are important, awareness about your own mental wellness is critical. Given the high-stress environment we live and work in, we cannot afford to be complacent about our mental well-being. Here are some simple tips to keep your mind active and happy:
- Connect with people around you and try to build relationships with them.
- Exercise your mind as consciously as you exercise your body.
- Keep learning and increase your skill sets – take a course on a new subject, learn a new game or acquire a new hobby.
- Be kind and giving to others – a smile, some words of gratitude or a small act of kindness can work extremely well to improve your mental wellbeing.
- Take time off for mental relaxation. Consider activities like meditation to calm your mind.
- Pay attention to your feelings, thoughts and the way you respond to the world around you. This will help you identify potential challenges / symptoms early on.
And importantly, do not ever hesitate to seek help from family, friends or professionals in case of need. Change your mind about the way you think about mental health, and spread the word!
Did you know?
Mental disorders increase the risk of getting ill from other diseases such as HIV, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and vice-versa.
- World Health Organization. Accessed Oct 7, 2016.
- World Federation for Mental Health. Accessed Oct 5, 2015.
- Mental Health Foundation. Accessed Oct 6, 2015.