When it comes to our health and wellbeing, we usually think of the body. We try to protect it from environmental influences, accidents and illnesses. Happily investing in how we look and can spend hours at the gym to try and lose a bit of weight or tone up. BUT, do we pay enough attention to our mental health and mental wellbeing?
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared that negative stress is the greatest health risk of the 21st century. And by 2020, depression – currently the fourth most common cause of disease worldwide – is said to be the most widespread health impairment after cardiovascular disease by 2020.
The importance of our mental wellbeing having a direct impact or connection on our overall health is not necessarily a new idea. Sigmund Freud for example explained that mental health is depending on our ability to work, enjoy life and love others and was particularly interested in observing his client’s skills to deal with problems and their ability to enjoy life’s pleasure to improve their overall wellbeing. And Juvenal, a Roman poet wrote about this vital connection: “ in a healthy body lives a healthy mind”.
Nowadays mental health is brought forward into the publics’ awareness with more celebrities speaking out about the difficulties they have previously, privately faced. So slowly and surely, we begin to understand that looking after our mental health does not need to be viewed as a luxury but is in fact a necessity for a holistic approach to health.
It is safe to say that we can agree the goal for a happy life is not to have a problem free life, as this is often not in our power of control. Illness, loss, relationship problems, redundancy, moving house to name just a few, are issues that can and often do have a negative effect on our mental wellbeing and our coping abilities. It is in these situations where good mental health allows us to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships.
Most of the time we are able to manage by ourselves but there might be times when we feel stuck or overwhelmed or simply need a space to process what is happening. The important bit here is our awareness to recognise when we might need help and to find the best way to support ourselves when moving forward.
For some this might mean to connect with family or friends. For others they may feel more comfortable talking to an outsider, who is able to offer confidential support on a professional level, whilst also not being connected to the problem.
As one of my clients once said: “I can’t believe how grateful I feel to have given myself permission to make this step and put myself first. This is the first time I felt able to talk and more importantly hear myself say these things and it has lifted a weight off my shoulders.”
Mental Health awareness week will be held between May 18-24. Why wait until then to make a change?