It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. Even after one of the most challenging years the country has faced in recent history, it’s important for everyone to understand and appreciate the hardship those suffering with mental health issues go through on a daily basis.
We’ve compiled a list of the 10 things you need to know about mental health which should provide support if you’re suffering, or looking to help someone who is having a tough time.
I’ll be the first to admit that there have been times in the last 12 months when I have lacked the motivation to get out of bed in the morning. I’ve been frustrated, mentally exhausted and I struggled to know how to deal with that. Which brings me to our first topic…
The assumptions of silence
If someone is silent regarding mental health issues, this doesn’t mean they aren’t fighting their own personal battles. You might even be rebuffed when trying to get someone to open up, with a simple “I’m fine” you might believe that to be the case.
The truth is you don’t know what anyone is going through, whether they’re a colleague, manager, friend, or family member. So try to treat everyone with respect. If you notice a mistake, or someone being late for work consistently, ask them what you can do to help rather than put them under even more pressure by telling someone to “pull yourself together.”
The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness week is nature. The reason behind this is simple. The concrete jungles and brick boxes we work and live in are just another prison we’re trapped in. The stresses we face in life most commonly come from home or at work, and we start to associate these places as toxic.
By getting out into a natural and open environment, whether that’s the beach, a forest, the top of a mountain, the mental health benefits can’t be understated. Go somewhere new if you can, make it an adventure, don’t plan it out too much so you can explore everything for yourself once you arrive.
If this isn’t possible on a regular basis, bring nature to you. Grow your own plants like tomatoes or strawberries. Consider it a metaphor for the seeds of your labour bearing fruit.
Health body healthy mind
For some sufferers of mental health problems, the issue can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. If you don’t exercise or go for walks and instead choose to sit at home and just binge watch TV, your body starts to adapt to this lifestyle. You feel tired all the time, struggle to focus and you’ll be unable to effectively deal with stress.
By eating healthy and exercising, you can help improve your mental state of mind thanks to positive chemicals that are released into the body. You don’t need a gym, just find a hobby or a nice place to walk that keeps you active.
No blanket fix
Everyone is different and has their own reasons for suffering from mental health issues. Which is why there’s no quick fix that will work for everyone. You might live in a village close to nature and exercise regularly but still suffer from mental health problems. Remember just because someone is happy in your environment, it doesn’t mean you have to be.
Think of two fish in a bowl. One fish loves the safety of the bowl, the regular feeding times, and the temperature of the water. The other fish looks exactly the same, but he’d prefer a bigger space to swim, better quality food, and fresher water. This is exactly why even married couples need to communicate how they feel regularly to avoid growing mental health problems.
Have a KitKat
Just kidding, unless you fancy one. But you definitely should take a break from your routine whenever you can. I’m not just talking about a couple of weeks away on the Costa Del Sol over summer. I mean on a daily basis. We’re all guilty of working through our lunch breaks, working over time or at weekends. But, this isn’t healthy. And you might think it’s helping you get more work done, but all it’s doing is draining your battery faster. So by the time you hit 3pm, your productivity isn’t what it should be.
At a minimum, take 5 minutes of every hour you work, and use those 5 minutes to walk around your home/office, make a drink, have a chat, watch some TikToks. It’s up to you. Then take at least 30 minutes for your lunch and finish on time. You’re going to find that you get the same amount of work done working like this, than you do being a slave to your desk.
Mental health doesn’t discriminate
You could be a 65 year old approaching retirement or a 17 year old getting your first job. It doesn’t matter what stage of your career you’re in, or what level you’re at, everyone is susceptible to mental health conditions. This goes back to what I mentioned earlier about respect. As a colleague or employer, just remember how little you know about the other person and what they’ve been through or are still going through.
The nonsense cure
One of the biggest crimes we’ve ever seen in history was the treatment of people suffering from mental health conditions in the hope of trying to ‘cure’ them. Chemical castration, electrical stimulation of the brain, surgically removing certain parts of the brain, and all kinds of pills and tranquillisers designed to keep people in a vegetive state. These were just some of the official and medical solutions to cure mental health disorders. Let’s not put people through the same treatment today.
The truth is there is no medical cure for mental health issues. If you need time off work because of depression, don’t feel pressured to say you’re cured and return to work. You might be taking antidepressants and feeling better, but the cure only works as long as all the other pieces in your life hold together. This is why mental health sufferers can relapse no matter how long they’ve been in a better frame of mind for.
Having a pet isn’t for everyone. In truth it can also bring stress into your life in some cases. However, pets, especially dogs can be great stress relievers. If you struggle with your mental health, and aren’t allergic or terrified of dogs, see if you can arrange a playdate. Dog walking, cuddling, and even talking out loud to your pet/dog can help you unload what’s weighing on you. And the unconditional love and attention they provide doesn’t hurt.
Here’s something else that everyone needs to consider. Some people are more deeply sensitive to the weather or seasons. Meaning their depression and state of mind can be tied to the time of year. Over summer, they could be one of the happiest people you know. Sunshine and long daytime hours are great for the soul. But in winter, when it’s cold, wet and dark, those same people can suffer without any other cause. Just try to understand that not every mental health issue is tied to some kind of deep trauma.
Help is always there
Too many times we’ve lost people to suicide because they felt like they couldn’t go on. Losing mental battles is proving to be one of the biggest killers of our generation. This should never be an option for someone. We all need to be kind, have respect for people, and be there for each other. Talk to someone who’s having a tough week. Offer to make them a hot drink or ask if they fancy getting out of the office for lunch. Kindness is the cheapest gift we can give and truth be told, we don’t share it enough.
If you’d like to discuss any of the points raised in this blog you can contact email@example.com or look for more mental health advice in some of our other blogs.
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