As you probably know by now, mental health is something I am extremely passionate about. Growing up in a culture in which mental health was not really recognised has further spurred me to develop my own knowledge and experience within the mental health field and advocate for vulnerable individuals…But why is mental health important?
Have you ever felt stressed, anxious, nervous or tired in general? I mean a lot of the time this may be because we push ourselves very far in our day to day lives, and a lack of a work life balance can often be a contributing factor for many. Mental health is essential to our overall health. A lack of peace of mind can often lead to many other concerns. Research shows there to be many links between chronic physical health conditions and a greater risk of developing mental health disorders.. Mental health can weave itself throughout all aspects of our lives, both in our professional and personal day to day lives.
Mental health influences our ability to cope with daily life and the challenges that come with it. With a positive outlook and good mental health, we are able to cope better wth the things that come our way, however, it’s important to recognise that mental health is a fluid state and can alter between being at the peak of positive to being at very poor, when we feel at our most vulnerable. It is important to recognise that most of us move within this spectrum. However, most of us seem to take our mental health for granted, as though it is a basic part of who we are. Though it is an unseen aspect of our overall health and wellbeing, the reality is that our mental health is a major factor in all aspects of our lives, as it affects everything we do, from our daily functioning and performance, to our relationships with others.
Now although mental health awareness has come a very long way from where it was in regards to the care and support individuals receive, there is still a lot of stigma attached to the idea of mental health. Often people may be afraid to approach the services they are in need of because of the stress and stigma of “what other people think”. And once again, culture plays a huge role in this. Both from my own observations within my culture as well as working within the field of mental health, I have recognised a lack of understanding and empathy towards mental health, mostly due to lack of knowledge. This is something that genuinely upsets me, because mental health effects each and every one of us every day, and I am genuinely passionate about advocating for these vulnerable individuals, and yes they are vulnerable; to abuse, harm, neglect (you name it!). Therefore, implementing the cultural values of an individual into their treatment plan is of significant importance.
So why the stigma? Possibly the lack of knowledge about mental health, a lack of understanding, or just pure ignorance. Whatever it is, it’s clearly not okay. Luckily, there are more services out there which aims to improve access to psychological treatment (IAPT), particularly aimed at individuals with anxiety and depression, as well as other diagnoses. However, there still remains this gap in which there is a lack of accessibility for individuals with learning disabilities and a diagnosis of autism. Adapting such therapies and providing that person centred approach is very important in aiding the benefits individuals receive from services.
In the current day, with the fast paced culture we live in, protecting and strengthening our mental health is vital. Whether it’s taking that small amount of time for yourself, doing things that you enjoy more, or just engaging more in the community, it’s always important to take some time for some self-care. A lack of self-care can often be detrimental to both our own mental health as well as our daily functioning abilities and can hinder our progress as individuals and professionals, preventing us from reaching our goals in life. Remember, it’s okay not to be okay…But it is always okay to ask for help 🙂