How Do You Perceive Mental Health?
Understanding what mental health really means and why seeking help to achieve good mental health is for everyone, anytime.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hundreds of millions of people worldwide are affected by mental health disorders and that —
One in four patients visiting a health service has at least one mental, neurological or behavioural disorder but most of these disorders are neither diagnosed nor treated.
Unfortunately, mental health tends to take a backseat and most of us are left on our own to figure out how to cope with life stressors that come our way.
Think of the time when you were facing a really difficult situation. What did you do? Did you try to make sense of the situation or did you just continue living your life and hope that it goes away? If you are lucky, you can move on with little effort and pain. If you are not, the hurt stays and unknowingly causes long term emotional damage that can affect your life.
The WHO also defines mental health as:
A state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
Based on the definition above, I would say mental health is important to everyone. We all have our intrinsic need to realize our potential and be able to cope with the normal stresses of life. Note the word “normal” there.
Understanding mental health and strategies to cope should not be limited to people who are affected by mental health disorders nor applied only during extraordinary events such as facing the death of a loved one, divorce or terminal illness. These are not “normal stresses of life” so why should we view seeking help to achieve good mental health as abnormal?
Achieving good mental health should be a life skill taught to everyone. The time to achieve good mental health is anytime — when you need to understand yourself, seek self-improvement or make sense of a situation which makes you feel uneasy, i.e., things which are “normal stresses of life”.
Unfortunately, the stigma associated with mental health impedes the understanding of what mental health should mean to us. Most people are not taught coping strategies which should be ingrained in us to achieve good mental health at all times just like how we know that we should turn to healthy eating habits and exercise to achieve good health.
Coping strategies as illustrated here are what we need to learn and apply.
Wouldn’t you want to prevent yourself from reacting emotionally or passively accepting something toxic or unhealthy? Having good mental health helps us to do that.
When we realize that achieving good mental health takes conscious effort, just as how we need to exercise and eat well, we can take positive steps towards taking better care of ourselves, physically and mentally.
When we have good mental health, we will feel happy because we can realize our own potential. Wouldn’t the world be a better place?