Though I will try my best to provide a simple overview, I do want to stress that mental health isn’t clear cut at all, and I worry it can be harmful to imply that it is. But for those who are looking for an overview of what mental health and wellbeing is, hopefully this will help.
What is mental health and mental wellbeing? A big question which has myriad answers. Ask a room full of people this question, and I can assure you that each answer will be slightly different.
Mental health concerns the mind. It refers to how you may feel psychologically, and is linked to the emotional state you are in. A broad way by which we can measure it is our ability to cope with the normal day-to-day stresses and issues that life throws at us, and there are numerous factors that can affect it.
It is unique and individual to each person. There are lots of people with mental health issues out there, but each one could be experiencing them in a different way. Your mental health state can also change daily and is unpredictable – there is a reason that people call dealing with poor mental health ‘a battle’, and because of this, it can be difficult to look after. Also, because it isn’t so obvious, it can become something we are ashamed of and which is hard for ourselves and others to understand; both add to the negative stigma surrounding it, which can make it incredibly difficult to talk about.
Poor mental health can affect anyone, though that doesn’t necessarily mean it will. In fact, many people can never have any problems whereas others can struggle for a lifetime. But it must be understood – poor mental health isn’t a choice.
Mental health problems can manifest in different ways, ranging from everyday worries to known disorders. Statistics published by the Mental Health Foundation indicate that the most common disorders in the UK are depression and anxiety, and other common mental disorders include phobias, OCD and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But we also cannot forget mental health problems that have been classed as ‘serious conditions’, such as bipolar, schizophrenia and eating disorders.
Mental health problems can affect anyone, and they exhibit different symptoms. Though there are known symptoms to look out for, it isn’t always so simple. Some people might not seem to manifest any symptoms at all! But to find out more about each type of mental health problem in more depth, I recommend you visit Mind’s page, which describes and discusses signs and symptoms of each type in a comprehensive way, as well as providing advice and helpful information.
The COVID-19 pandemic robbed us of many things that kept us mentally and physically healthy. It’s no wonder the World Health Organisation reported a 25% increase in cases of anxiety and depression (worldwide) as a result of COVID-19. From a lack of personal contact with family and friends, through to the ability to partake in physical activity, which for many is an outlet for their mental health, to a change in work environments and new financial worries, it’s fair to say during the pandemic we went through a lot.
Though the long-term mental effects of the pandemic are yet to be seen it’s evident that there has already been an increase in those suffering. According to Mind (Coronavirus: the consequences for mental health, 2021), around a third of adults and young people that were asked, said their mental health has got “much worse” since March 2020. Despite the negative mental health effects, the pandemic has shone a light for many people and organisations on the importance of mental health and wellbeing. With this new level of awareness people more likely to check in on a friend, or in a work setting set up some support for those members of staff who are struggling.
Mental health and mental wellbeing are intrinsically linked, and the two phrases are often used interchangeably. Some consider mental wellbeing to be more a positive state of mind – describing it as ‘feeling good psychologically’, ‘feeling comfortable with yourself’, and ‘being in a good place’. Others emphasise the importance of an awareness of trigger points that might affect your mental health and the strategies you can put in place to help. Both are correct: if you are looking after your mental wellbeing, it should help you feel good psychologically.
It is important to be aware of your mental health state. Poor mental health and associated disorders can impact your life in many ways – they can affect your social life, your work, your relationships, your overall quality of life. But it can be a vicious cycle, as those factors can also be the cause of poor mental health. This is why it is important to be aware of triggers that might affect your mental health state and put strategies in place that can help.
If you are concerned about your mental health, one way that might help is to work on improving your mental wellbeing. To do that, you could consider the following questions:
Adjusting these areas may have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing. Though please don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t have the effect you want – every person is unique, and what helps one person might not help another. It can also take time, so be patient. People often get to a point where focusing on improving their mental wellbeing using methods such as those above isn’t enough, and they find it more beneficial to their mental health to use other methods such as medication or therapy/counselling.
But the good news is that there is much more acceptance and understanding around mental health now, and it is easier to access different treatments and advice. Remember, it’s important to find what works for you.
Mental Health Foundation: Your Mental Health – a great collection of different types of content designed to provide information about mental health and how to look after it.
Click here to view our full offering of free resources that might help, such as a stress test, tips for restful sleep and an activity tracker and planner. Keep a look out for them – they’ll be coming soon. If you would like more information, contact us at email@example.com