Mental health is often overlooked as an important facet of overall health, but it is as crucial as physical health. Generally speaking, mental health is a state of wellbeing in which one feels capable of realising their innate potential, can cope with the normal stresses of daily life, work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to their community.
The importance of mental health cannot be overstated, as it impacts every facet of our lives.
Imagine a successful executive who is dealing with untreated depression. Despite their accomplishments, they struggle with low energy, lack of motivation, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms make it challenging for them to perform their job effectively, leading to negative consequences for their career.
Furthermore, their personal relationships and overall quality of life will also likely suffer due to the toll that their mental health is taking on them. This demonstrates how even those who may appear to be thriving in one area of their life can be greatly impacted by poor mental health.
Mental Health Can Affect Anyone
Mental health issues are not uncommon as we might think and can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. These are not a sign of weakness, but an indication that our mental health needs attention and care. Mental health issues can manifest in various ways, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and many more.
It’s important to seek professional help when dealing with mental health issues, as they can have a significant impact on our daily lives.
Someone in their mid-20s, for example, experiencing symptoms of anxiety, such as persistent worry and trouble sleeping, despite their best efforts to manage their symptoms on their own, they find that they are having difficulty functioning in their daily life and it’s starting to affect their work and relationships.
After seeking professional help and receiving treatment, they are able to better manage their anxiety and experience significant improvements in their quality of life.
Stigma Surrounding Mental Health
Stigma surrounding mental health can prevent many from seeking the help they need. It is important to understand, however, that mental health issues are not a personal failure, but a medical condition that needs treatment. In fact, seeking help for mental health issues should be seen as a sign of strength and self-care not weakness.
Take Michael Phelps, for example. He’s the Olympic gold medalist swimmer, widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time, if not the greatest.
Phelps, has been open about his struggles with depression and anxiety. Despite facing stigma surrounding his condition and the pressure to maintain a certain image as a high-profile athlete, he sought professional help and therapy to manage his mental health issues. By speaking out about his experiences and advocating for mental health awareness, Phelps has not only been able to improve his own wellbeing but has also become an inspiration and role model for millions who may be struggling with similar issues.
One of the key components of maintaining good mental health is self-care. The need for self-care can’t be overestimated and involves taking care of our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. This can include things like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, and taking time to relax and unwind.
A study published in 2016 in the Journal of Psychiatric Research on the association between self-care practices and anxiety and depression, conducted by a team of researchers led by P. L. Fisher, and another published in 2017 in the Journal of Affective Disorders on the meta-analysis of self-care interventions for individuals with depression conducted by a team of researchers led by B. Firth, both have shown that:
“self-care practices such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep hygiene were associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression in adults.”
The Importance of Social Support
Another important aspect of maintaining good mental health is building healthy relationships.
Social support is a crucial component of mental health, as it helps us feel connected, valued and supported.
Building strong relationships with friends, family, and peers can help reduce stress, promote happiness, and give a sense of purpose.
Furthermore, mental health professionals, such as therapists, counsellors, and psychiatrists, can provide the support and guidance that social support can not provide. They can help identify the root causes of mental health issues, develop coping strategies, and provide effective treatment options.
The Power Of Meditation/Mindfulness
In addition, mindfulness practices such as meditation, yoga, and breathwork are also known to be effective tools in promoting good mental health. These practices help promote relaxation, reduce stress, and increase overall well-being, as the following studies show:
- A randomised controlled trial published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2020 found that a mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention was effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in adults with generalised anxiety disorder.
- A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in 2020 found that mindfulness-based interventions were effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in individuals with mood and anxiety disorders.
- A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2021 found that a 10-week mindfulness-based intervention was effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in adults with chronic pain.
Not least, mindfulness, meditation, yoga and breathwork, help cultivate a sense of inner peace and self-awareness.
Mental health is a crucial component of overall health and well-being. It impacts every aspect of our lives, and it’s important to prioritise it. Getting professional help, practicing self-care, building healthy relationships, and incorporating mindfulness practices can all contribute to maintaining good mental health. And remember, seeking help for mental health issues is a sign of strength, not weakness.