Taking care of our mental health is something that I am very passionate about and as it was World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10th October. I thought, it was the perfect opportunity to broach the topic. I find it hard to believe that even though there is so much information now readily available about mental health, there is still so much stigma attached to it. Why is it ok to discuss our physical health and seek support for it, but our emotional wellbeing is not a topic for general discussion? I’m of the opinion that our mental health is equal to or even more important than our physical health and is something that needs to be more openly talked about.
Mental illness is just like physical illness, in that they both often start off small and when the symptoms are not addressed they develop into something much bigger, that needs more intensive treatment. When someone has a physical injury people around them are more likely to broach the subject and urge them to get medical attention. Would you be prepared to broach the topic of suspected mental illness with someone in your network? Often the signs of mental illness are more visible to those around us, way before we recognise it ourselves. I’m sure that if the stigma surrounding mental health was to disappear, more people would reach out to offer or seek support when they are mentally unwell. How often have you noticed that someone seemed stressed and you chose to ignore it? When someone experiences high levels of stress for prolonged periods of time, or a one off traumatic event, it can easily lead to depression, anxiety disorders, adrenal and chronic fatigue.
Often people think that Post Traumatic Stress disorder only occurs after experiencing war or something like a national disaster. Where in fact, it can be anything you experience that is traumatic and has an ongoing impact on your day to day living. Often when someone is impacted by something that may not be affecting others, they are given the message that they are making a mountain out of a mole hill and need to just harden up and get over it. I can assure you that these comments are never helpful and will encourage the person to bottle up their feelings, which only intensifies them, rather than making them disappear. I have personally been in this situation twice before, the first time it was emotional and physical abuse by a now previous husband and the second time it was emotional abuse by close family members. The first went undiagnosed by medical professionals and it was not until after escaping the second situation, was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) diagnosed. Thankfully, since seeking the support from a wonderful councillor and some deeper understanding after gaining my social work qualifications, I was able to lay these demons to rest and move forward, knowing that none of it was my fault. Living with such high levels of stress for prolonged periods of time, has left my mental state somewhat more fragile. Hence why I urge you all to put mental health at the top of your radar.
Stress: occurs when there is an imbalance between the demands being made on you and your resources to cope with those demands.
Stress Triggers: ongoing health issues, relationship problems, work satisfaction, unemployment, financial difficulties, bereavement, exams, deadlines & unrealistic expectations.
Symptoms: headaches, muscle tension, neck & back pain, jittery, irritable, angry, over or under eating, rapid heartbeat, upset stomach, chest pain, overwhelmed, continually tired, lack of concentration, reliant on stimulants, skin irritations, mouth ulcers, colds rashes, insomnia & irregular breathing.
Stress Management Tools: deep breathing, journal writing, the use of planning & organisational tools, physical activity, health eating, quality sleep patterns, meditation, yoga, hobbies, & supportive social connections.
Does your mental health care plan need an overhaul?