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What is mental health?

what is mental health

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Mental health, like physical health is something that we all have. It is also called emotional health or wellbeing and refers to how well we feel in our thoughts and emotions and it links to our levels of self-esteem. Our mental health can go up and down at different times in our lives and it often relates to our stress levels.

Man with traumatic stress

If you are feeling well in yourself  you will be able to make the most of opportunities and your potential, generally cope with life and  play a full and active part in your relationships with family and friends. At times when you are experiencing lots of extra pressure through situations like relationship break-up, job deadlines or school exams signs of mental distress can start to show such as becoming distracted, unhappy and wanting to withdraw from the world.

Most of the time these difficult feelings pass when the external situations calm down but sometimes they develop into something more long term and at other times people develop more serious mental health conditions.

Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression are the most common reasons that people seek professional help with their mental health. Other commonly diagnosed mental health conditions include obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Bipolar Disorder which used to be called Manic Depression, Schizophrenia, Personality Disorders and Eating Disorders.

There is further information on all of these conditions and what can help them at MIND. Sometimes people like to be given a diagnoses for why they are feeling and behaving in the ways that they are. It can be a relief to make sense of changes and unusual experiences. At other times receiving a diagnoses can be very upsetting because there is a lot of stigma against mental health in our society and people worry that they will be judged and discriminated against. It is very important not to make a judgement about someone elses behaviour and assume that they have a a certain mental health condition. Everyone is capable of having temporary experiences of paranoia, acute anxiety and even suicidal thoughts without it meaning that they have a serious mental health condition.

mental healthMental health is something that is important to look after and take responsibility for in the same way that you would do for your physical health. The mental health charity Mind suggests that there are five helpful steps to well-being that you can use a guide to give yourself the highest chance of enjoying good well-being. They are:

Connect – Build a strong social network with people around you including family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.

Be active – Do a physical activity that you enjoy. There are proven links between physical and mental health and if you keep fit physically your mental health will benefit enormously!

Take notice – Be in the present and put your attention on the changing seasons, the sky at night, a bird outside your window! Anything that helps you be in the present moment will relax your mind.

Keep learning – One of the things our minds do best is to take in new information. Study something that you’ve always been interested in or that will bring you pleasure and fun.

Give – Making a contribution to the world is a sure fire way of raising your self-esteem. If you have the time to do some voluntary work there are loads of opportunities at Do It Volunteer, or you could do a walk for charity or simply organise a cake sale for a cause of your choice. How ever much time you have there are hundreds of ways you could make a difference.





About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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