Over the next few months, we are going to be addressing some of the most common myths surrounding mental health.
Firstly, let’s look at mental health – what exactly is it?
What words come to you mind when you hear the phrase mental health? Maybe psycho, depression, crazy, dangerous or resilience, emotion, coping? The majority of people will initially think of mental ILLNESS rather than health.
Mental health can mean different things to different people and there are a number of definitions around. The World Health Organization define mental health as
“a state of well-being in which every individual realises 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.” To me it is about being human, managing our everyday emotions and coping with life as it happens.
Let’s put it a little simpler …Have you brushed your teeth today? Why? We don’t wait for a cavity in our teeth before we start caring for them – we brush them everyday to keep them healthy.
Do we care for our mental health the same way and take little steps to keep well and prevent illness or do we wait until we are at crisis point? Staying with the teeth analogy – we have regular check ups and sometimes we may need a filling, sometimes a root canal, sometimes even an extraction! That is the same with mental health/ illness. Sometimes we may be feeling stressed and need to do something for our selves, sometimes we may need professional support.
Why do we call it MENTAL health – wouldn’t it just be nicer to change the name?
When I first started as a mental health nurse in the mid 80’s, I like others, thought it would be like this..
Bethlem Royal Hospital, UK
Although we have come a long way since those days, there is still so much stigma around mental health.
If we change the name, are we then buying into the stigma and saying that is shameful to have issues with our mental health. What we should be doing is embracing the fact that we ALL have mental health and it can change the very same way our physical health can change.
There are so many great ways we can not only support our own mental health but reduce the stigma. Let’s start a conversation…….
We will be exploring tips to help you support your and your loved ones mental health, please share this journey with us.
Stay tuned, our next blog will look at when mental health changes to mental illness.