Mental Health Awareness Week (#MHAW2016) is this week: from 16th-22nd May. The theme is relationships, and how our relationships with other people affected and are affected by our mental health. When we think of ‘mental health’ we jump to illnesses; we think depression, bipolar and eating disorders, and yes these are very important things to discuss (we wouldn’t be here otherwise), but that is not the whole meaning of the phrase ‘mental health’.
The definition: a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
Or in other words: the wellness of our mind
Mental health, just like physical health, has a scale and we are all on it somewhere – some of us are just healthier than others at this time. When I was doing GCSE PE we learnt about the definitions of health and fitness. Fitness is about ‘being able to meet the demands of the environment’. Being healthy is about ‘being a state of complete physical, MENTAL and SOCIAL well-being, not merely the absence of disease’. In order to be healthy our body, mind AND relationships all have to be working properly, and if one pillar goes down (no matter which one) we need to look after ourselves.
In this TED talk, Guy Winch (a psychologist and author) speaks of emotional resilience and how we need to learn to look after our mind, just as we look after our body. I would strongly encourage you to make the time to watch the video because it is certainly food for thought:
“How is it that we spend more time taking care of our teeth than we do our minds?”
A very good point! We learn at a very early age that we have to brush our teeth twice a day to keep them healthy; we are told that we have to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day to keep our bodies healthy; so why is it that we aren’t so worried about our minds?
I say these things as if I have the answers, but in fact I am very hypocritical! I do not look after myself as much as I should. I like to be busy and I am always striving to be as happy as I possibly can be (which I’m told no one can achieve) and this means that I struggle when things aren’t perfect or I’m not rushing around like a mad thing. We all need to look after our mental health as if our mind were our teeth or our leg.
So, I ask you to take your first step today – watch the video and learn a little more about your emotional hygiene to make your quality of life better.
I leave you with this: Why is this the most common reaction to a psychologist?
Base Layer: A production by young people for Young Minds – come and join us in supporting young people’s mental health. Tickets available here.