What is Mental Health?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Many factors can contribute to mental health problems. For some, these may include:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry & even family history
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
There are things we can all do to help others suffering with mental health issues;
Feeling down or depressed from time to time is normal. But if these feelings last two weeks or more, or start to affect everyday life, this can be a sign of depression.
Depression can develop slowly. Someone who is depressed may not realise or acknowledge that they're not feeling or behaving as they usually do. Often it's a partner, family member or carer who first realises that help is needed. If you suspect yourself or someone else may be depressed, you may need to encourage them to see their GP, or find other sources of support.
Depression has lots of possible symptoms. You may notice:
- Has lost interest in doing things they normally enjoy
- Seems to be feeling down or hopeless
- Has slower speech and movements or is more fidgety and restless than usual
- Feels tired or doesn’t have much energy
- Is overeating or has lost their appetite
- Is sleeping more than usual or isn’t able to sleep
- Has trouble concentrating on everyday things, such as watching the television or reading the paper
Below are 10 practical ways to look after your mental health. Making simple changes to how you live doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take up loads of time. Anyone can follow this advice. Why not start today?
Talk about your feelings - Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.
Keep Active - Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.
Keep in Touch - There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!
Take a Break - Give yourself some ‘me time’ A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to distress you.
Accept who you are - We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn.
Eat Well - Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
Drink Sensibly - We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. When the drink wears off, you feel worse because of the way the alcohol has affected your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings.
Ask for Help – None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear.
Do something you’re good at - What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem
Caring for others - Friends are really important… We help each other whenever we can, so it’s a two-way street, and supporting them can uplift you. Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.