Everybody has mental health.

Physical health. You have it, right? Yeah, me too. In fact I don't think I've ever met anybody who denies they have it. It just exists in all of us... Sometimes we're in good health, sometimes our health worsens, sometimes we take steps to restore our health to a happy medium.

Mental health, though... "Oh no, I've never been depressed. I don't have mental health". But its exactly the same. Look at those two words... MENTAL HEALTH. Not mental ill health, not poor mental health, not mental illness. Just simply, your level of wellbeing. The health of your brain, mind, emotions, stress levels, mood, sleep levels, happiness levels, contentment, your state of wellbeing... we all have it.

Please stop denying you have it or getting it confused with mental ill health, because mental health exists in all of us regardless. And recognising that can lead to a whole host of great things... Firstly, people who are experiencing mental ill health or distressing and debilitating mental health conditions, feel a lot less isolated when they realise that we all have mental health. We all have the ability to be well and to be unwell. And they aren't alone or weird. When mental health is talked about openly and honestly by everybody, the feeling of isolation often around mental ill health really reduces. Acceptance and understanding helps destroy stigma. And stigma is quite frankly, the largest killer when it comes to mental health.

It is devastating that in this day and age, mental health issues are the number one cause of death for men under 40 in this country. So many individuals struggle silently, don't seek help, and don't receive the support and care that could help them fully recover. And often this is because of the shame or humiliation of doing so. It has to change.

Secondly, if we can all recognise that we have mental health in the same way that we have our physical health, you can start to understand how the two are so so interconnected. You know those feelings when you get nervous...butterflies in your tummy, agitated foot-tapping, feeling like you want to run laps of the room, sweaty palms, headache, feeling sick? Well they are minor signs of anxiety. A person who suffers from severe anxiety can suffer from those symptoms, in amplified form, all of the time. Anxiety, as just one example, can lead to or be linked to: skin rashes and flare ups, bowel problems, irregular or increased heart rate, disrupted sleep, respiratory problems, and much much more. And this is just one example of how a mental health issue can take physical form. The same can be true for the reverse: physical issues, such as dealing with a long-term illness, or a debilitating injury, can really impact our mental health.

Thirdly, understanding that we all have mental health (have I said it enough times yet?!) means that you can then take steps to proactively look after your mental health. In the same way that you might  take a daily vitamin, eat your 5-a-day, or do some exercise to help maintain your physical health. Well, you can take small wellbeing improvement measures too! Things like improving your sleep pattern, turning off technology sometimes, fresh air, mindfulness exercises, doing things you enjoy, stress-busting techniques, having a good support network, talking honestly with friends and family, self-talking practice and positive thinking can all make a huge huge difference to your overall well-being, and improve your mental health. Taking some of these steps can have fab results, be really enjoyable, and improve your general quality of life. Even more importantly, they might also build up your resilience. This basically means that you might improve how well you would cope if you were to experience trauma, distress, or a period of low mood or mental ill health.

So starting from now, think about your own mental health if you haven't done so before! Take small steps to improve your wellbeing, look after yourself and listen to yourself. Try and do something daily that is for you. And think about having some honest conversations with the people around you about your mental wellbeing... It could make the world of difference. And whilst I don't want to go all L'Oreal on you: do it because you are worth it!

A x

Comments

  1. Suicide is the leading cause of death in women as well as men between the age of 20-40 years. This is something that is unlikely to change as people in this age group have relatively good physical health, however the overall number could definitely be reduced. Good read and important message!

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