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Mental Health Awareness Month of May Write Up

ChristineFlexi

- by Christine-Alice Hartigan

 

May was Mental Health Awareness Month with events held around the globe.  The initiative was led by Mental Health America (MHA) a non-profit organisation founded in 1909, that is dedicated to meeting the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting good mental health. In the UK we held Mental Health Awareness week (May 13-19th) this was led by MIND a charity offeringadvice and supportand aiming to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. This month’s blog will focus on this important topic. 

 

Why is mental health important?

According to MIND, mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common conditions such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

 

“In many ways, mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it.”

“Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you're frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.”  

“Experiencing a mental health problem is often upsetting, confusing and frightening – particularly at first. If you become unwell, you may feel that it's a sign of weakness, or that you are 'losing your mind'.

“These fears are often reinforced by the negative (and often unrealistic) way that people experiencing mental health problems are shown on TV, in films and by the media. This may stop you from talking about your problems, or seeking help. This, in turn, is likely to increase your distress and sense of isolation.”3

“However, in reality, mental health problems are a common human experience. Most people know someone who has experienced a mental health problem. They can happen to all kinds of people from all walks of life. And it's likely that, when you find a combination of self-care, treatment and support that works for you, you will get better.”[i]

 

Different perspectives on mental health and mental illness

There are various approaches to mental health and treating mental illness around the world. Most health professionals in the UK agree on a similar set of clinical diagnoses and treatments for mental health problems. 

“We use the phrase ‘mental health problems’, as many people have told us this feels helpful for them. But you might be more familiar with terms such as ‘poor emotional health’, ‘overloaded’, ‘burnt out’ or ‘overwhelmed’. Or you may feel that terms such as ‘mental illness’ or ‘mental health issues’ describe your experiences better, or are easier to explain to other people in your life.”[ii]

 

How can you recognise these symptoms ‘poor emotional health’, ‘overloaded’, ‘burnt out’ or ‘overwhelmed’?

 

Fatigue and feeling tired
Teary and easily upset 
Feeling down, depressed and unhappy 
Feeling stressed and worried about things
Struggling with connecting with people, or a break down in relationships
Feeling overwhelmed and overloaded
Feeling alone and not knowing who to talk to
Feeling that there is no time left for me
Eating poorly, lack of sleep, not exercising and not looking after yourself
 

What things can help improve your emotional health?

 

Please see advice below from the Mental Health Foundation -  12 ways in which you can assess your current work/life balance and emotional well-being.

 

Reassess your workload 
Ask yourself - can you reduce your schedule?  Make a list of all the items in your life that make you happier, things that will make you more productive and alleviate feelings of lack of accomplishment which leads to unnecessary stress. Prioritise these tasks.

Diet & Nutrition 
“Food is thy medicine” said Hippocrates. Re-visit your diet, your emotional self may crave sugars in times of stress but sugar is adding to the problem.  Limiting unrefined sugars and hydrogenated fats will actually have a huge impact on the regulation of your moods and will combat fatigue; give you more energy and support clearer thinking. 

Readdress work/life balance 
Ask yourself, are you spending too much time at work - Is this creating a sense of resentment which can add to an emotional health overload? Time which makes “you” happier is time well spent

Faith/spirituality
Is faith/spirituality something you can build into your life? If you are of a spiritual mind and have somehow disassociated yourself from your spiritual health then reconnecting with this side of you can offer comfort in times of difficulty.

Sleep 
Are you getting enough quality sleep? Sometimes feeling overwhelmed and actually being sleep deprivation can be intertwined. Sleep plays a huge part in our emotional stability.

Humour
Finding JOY in life is essential to happiness.  Have you left behind or forgotten things which made you happy? In the brain, serotonin impacts levels of mood, anxiety, and happiness.“Laughter is a positive sensation, and seems to be a useful and healthy way to overcome stress. Laughter therapy is a kind of cognitive-behavioural therapy that could make physical, psychological, and social relationships healthy, ultimately improving the quality of life. Laughter therapy, as a non-pharmacological, alternative treatment, has a positive effect on the mental health and the immune system.”[iii]

Exercise 
Exercise is one of the most effective ways of improving your mental health.It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep betterand boosts your overall mood. Can you include more exercise into your weekly schedule?

Gut health
“The Gut Brain Connection: Researchers say controlling the bacterial population of the gastrointestinal tract may help improve symptoms of mental disorders.  The gut includes every organ involved in digesting food and processing it into waste. The lining of your gut is often called “the second brain.” Physically- the vagus nerve, which controls messages to the gut as well as the heart, lungs, and other vital organs; is the gut’s direct connection to the brain. Chemically-the gut also connects with the brain through chemicals like hormones and neurotransmitters that send messages.[iv]A nutritionist will be able to look at your bacteria and suggest a new plan which can rebuild your gut.

Animal companionship
“The companionshipa pet offers is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress. A pet can be a great source of comfort, companionship and motivation for their owners. In many ways, pets can help us to live mentally healthier lives.”[v]

Social connections and recreation
 Our relationships can be the biggest influence on our emotional self. Choosing the right people in your network of social and personal life can offer one of the greatest support and stability for emotional health.

Talking
Campaigns such as “It’s okay not to be okay” [vi]  have been aiming to remove the stigma around admitting having a mental illness. This is a feeling can resonate with everyone who might be struggling and not sure who to talk to, or if they should. Talking about how you feel can only help in starting to rebuild positive feelings about your life. 

Take a break, meditation, relaxation, spa. 
Rebuild a more balanced lifestyle which can make you happier and healthier, by building in time to take a break; practising meditation and also building in time to visit a spa, can all have very positive effects on your future mental health wellbeing.

 

Summary

I have referenced a number of charities and mental health practitioners who are dedicated and trained in this topic in order to highlight that there is support out there for anyone who maybe suffering with mental ill-health. The more we talk about mental health, the easier it should become to recognise the early burn out stages and know how we can re-build ourselves. 

If you have serious concerns about your mental health and wellbeing please do contact the various qualified practitioners, including your GP, or reach out to some of the amazing support charities such as MIND charity. Do something about it today!

If you wish to connect with mental health awareness month and Mental health awareness week campaigns, show support and #mentalhealthawarenessweek #bebodykind @mindcharity @http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/about-us#.XOKBOD88G20.twitter.

I would very much like to hear from you in the comments below. 

Thank you for your time and thank you for reading, 

 

Christine-Alice Hartigan

UKSA board member 

SPACE & PLACE: Wellness; Lifestyle by design

 

[i]www.mind.org.uk

[ii]www.mind.org.uk

[iii]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27439375

[iv]https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/fitness-4mind4body-gut-brain-connection

[v]https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/pets-and-mental-health

[vi]https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/its-ok-not-ok/1494556

 

 

- by Christine-Alice Hartigan

 

May was Mental Health Awareness Month with events held around the globe.  The initiative was led by Mental Health America (MHA) a non-profit organisation founded in 1909, that is dedicated to meeting the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting good mental health. In the UK we held Mental Health Awareness week (May 13-19th) this was led by MIND a charity offeringadvice and supportand aiming to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. This month’s blog will focus on this important topic. 

 

Why is mental health important?

According to MIND, mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common conditions such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

 

“In many ways, mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it.”

“Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you're frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.”  

“Experiencing a mental health problem is often upsetting, confusing and frightening – particularly at first. If you become unwell, you may feel that it's a sign of weakness, or that you are 'losing your mind'.

“These fears are often reinforced by the negative (and often unrealistic) way that people experiencing mental health problems are shown on TV, in films and by the media. This may stop you from talking about your problems, or seeking help. This, in turn, is likely to increase your distress and sense of isolation.”3

“However, in reality, mental health problems are a common human experience. Most people know someone who has experienced a mental health problem. They can happen to all kinds of people from all walks of life. And it's likely that, when you find a combination of self-care, treatment and support that works for you, you will get better.”[i]

 

Different perspectives on mental health and mental illness

There are various approaches to mental health and treating mental illness around the world. Most health professionals in the UK agree on a similar set of clinical diagnoses and treatments for mental health problems. 

“We use the phrase ‘mental health problems’, as many people have told us this feels helpful for them. But you might be more familiar with terms such as ‘poor emotional health’, ‘overloaded’, ‘burnt out’ or ‘overwhelmed’. Or you may feel that terms such as ‘mental illness’ or ‘mental health issues’ describe your experiences better, or are easier to explain to other people in your life.”[ii]

 

How can you recognise these symptoms ‘poor emotional health’, ‘overloaded’, ‘burnt out’ or ‘overwhelmed’?

 

Fatigue and feeling tired
Teary and easily upset 
Feeling down, depressed and unhappy 
Feeling stressed and worried about things
Struggling with connecting with people, or a break down in relationships
Feeling overwhelmed and overloaded
Feeling alone and not knowing who to talk to
Feeling that there is no time left for me
Eating poorly, lack of sleep, not exercising and not looking after yourself
 

What things can help improve your emotional health?

 

Please see advice below from the Mental Health Foundation -  12 ways in which you can assess your current work/life balance and emotional well-being.

 

Reassess your workload 
Ask yourself - can you reduce your schedule?  Make a list of all the items in your life that make you happier, things that will make you more productive and alleviate feelings of lack of accomplishment which leads to unnecessary stress. Prioritise these tasks.

Diet & Nutrition 
“Food is thy medicine” said Hippocrates. Re-visit your diet, your emotional self may crave sugars in times of stress but sugar is adding to the problem.  Limiting unrefined sugars and hydrogenated fats will actually have a huge impact on the regulation of your moods and will combat fatigue; give you more energy and support clearer thinking. 

Readdress work/life balance 
Ask yourself, are you spending too much time at work - Is this creating a sense of resentment which can add to an emotional health overload? Time which makes “you” happier is time well spent

Faith/spirituality
Is faith/spirituality something you can build into your life? If you are of a spiritual mind and have somehow disassociated yourself from your spiritual health then reconnecting with this side of you can offer comfort in times of difficulty.

Sleep 
Are you getting enough quality sleep? Sometimes feeling overwhelmed and actually being sleep deprivation can be intertwined. Sleep plays a huge part in our emotional stability.

Humour
Finding JOY in life is essential to happiness.  Have you left behind or forgotten things which made you happy? In the brain, serotonin impacts levels of mood, anxiety, and happiness.“Laughter is a positive sensation, and seems to be a useful and healthy way to overcome stress. Laughter therapy is a kind of cognitive-behavioural therapy that could make physical, psychological, and social relationships healthy, ultimately improving the quality of life. Laughter therapy, as a non-pharmacological, alternative treatment, has a positive effect on the mental health and the immune system.”[iii]

Exercise 
Exercise is one of the most effective ways of improving your mental health.It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep betterand boosts your overall mood. Can you include more exercise into your weekly schedule?

Gut health
“The Gut Brain Connection: Researchers say controlling the bacterial population of the gastrointestinal tract may help improve symptoms of mental disorders.  The gut includes every organ involved in digesting food and processing it into waste. The lining of your gut is often called “the second brain.” Physically- the vagus nerve, which controls messages to the gut as well as the heart, lungs, and other vital organs; is the gut’s direct connection to the brain. Chemically-the gut also connects with the brain through chemicals like hormones and neurotransmitters that send messages.[iv]A nutritionist will be able to look at your bacteria and suggest a new plan which can rebuild your gut.

Animal companionship
“The companionshipa pet offers is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress. A pet can be a great source of comfort, companionship and motivation for their owners. In many ways, pets can help us to live mentally healthier lives.”[v]

Social connections and recreation
 Our relationships can be the biggest influence on our emotional self. Choosing the right people in your network of social and personal life can offer one of the greatest support and stability for emotional health.

Talking
Campaigns such as “It’s okay not to be okay” [vi]  have been aiming to remove the stigma around admitting having a mental illness. This is a feeling can resonate with everyone who might be struggling and not sure who to talk to, or if they should. Talking about how you feel can only help in starting to rebuild positive feelings about your life. 

Take a break, meditation, relaxation, spa. 
Rebuild a more balanced lifestyle which can make you happier and healthier, by building in time to take a break; practising meditation and also building in time to visit a spa, can all have very positive effects on your future mental health wellbeing.

 

Summary

I have referenced a number of charities and mental health practitioners who are dedicated and trained in this topic in order to highlight that there is support out there for anyone who maybe suffering with mental ill-health. The more we talk about mental health, the easier it should become to recognise the early burn out stages and know how we can re-build ourselves. 

If you have serious concerns about your mental health and wellbeing please do contact the various qualified practitioners, including your GP, or reach out to some of the amazing support charities such as MIND charity. Do something about it today!

If you wish to connect with mental health awareness month and Mental health awareness week campaigns, show support and #mentalhealthawarenessweek #bebodykind @mindcharity @http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/about-us#.XOKBOD88G20.twitter.

I would very much like to hear from you in the comments below. 

Thank you for your time and thank you for reading, 

 

Christine-Alice Hartigan

UKSA board member 

SPACE & PLACE: Wellness; Lifestyle by design

 

[i]www.mind.org.uk

[ii]www.mind.org.uk

[iii]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27439375

[iv]https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/fitness-4mind4body-gut-brain-connection

[v]https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/pets-and-mental-health

[vi]https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/its-ok-not-ok/1494556

 

 

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