World Mental Health Day – October 10th 2017 is a day for doing anything to improve your own and others mental health. Here are 5 things you can do to make a difference!
More and more people are realizing the importance of mental health. We are starting to see how poor mental health can affect someone’s life, their family and their friends. I officially launched my mental health blog, ‘Wellness of Health’, coincidentally a week before World Mental Health Day, and in the few days since the launch I have been amazed by the amount of support and messages I have received from people about the blog. People have sent messages saying how good it is to see a mental health blog, as they have had challenges in the past but felt like they were the only ones. This is why we need to spread the word. It feels great that in less than one week I have made a difference and given people the confidence to speak up and remove some of the stigma around mental health. So with this World Mental Health Day 2017 on October 10, what can you do to help remove some of the stigma and make a difference to the positive mental health cause?
1. Start with your mental health first
Start with the man (or woman) in the mirror. Do you actually get a chance to reflect on how your own mental health is going? Why you are feeling tired? Why you might be a little under the weather? Why you are finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning? Why you don’t enjoy your job? These are all things that can go on and on if you are in ‘auto-pilot’, and your own mental health might not be as good as you think. Often we put our job, our family, our friends or something else before ourselves at the cost of our own mental health. Put yourself first and take some time to improve your own mental health by doing whatever it is that makes you feel good. Take some time to reflect and figure what actions you need to take for yourself.
2. Talk. LISTEN. Talk. LISTEN.
Positive mental health involves a lot of talking and listening. You need to be able to talk to others and listen to others about their feelings and problems. Often we can have our own ideas about what someone should do or could do to improve the situation, when all they want is someone to listen to their problems (people actually want to figure it out themselves). This is something that I have struggled with and have had to improve on. I am focusing more on listening instead of trying to help solve the problem. Stop going into solution mode and let people get their problems off of their chest. Ask questions, don’t give answers.
3. Ask someone how they are going and HELP them out
Ok so this one ties in with point 2 above. Basically you need to help someone out by being there for them. When I experienced anxiety and was feeling depressed, nothing is worse than someone trying to help you in a way that makes you feel like they pity you – it actually makes things worse. If you have a friend or family member that is struggling, you know what they like to do for fun or what cheers them up, so go and do it. Take their mind off things. If it means going to the beach and not saying a word about their challenges and just laughing about all the funny things that happened on the way, then go and do that. Help them out by being there, having fun and taking their mind off things. This is much better than anything you could do with your Dr Phil hat on!
4. Spread the word that it is ok – to not be ok
This is a huge one that often is left unsaid. Tell yourself, and anyone else, that it is ok to not be ok. There are heaps of statistics around how common mental health challenges are, but no one cares about that when THEY are the ones suffering with something like anxiety or depression. So just tell them that it is ok to not be ok. You will get through this, but you just need to ride it out. Don’t tell them to snap out of it, or ‘don’t worry about it’, just tell them that it’s ok, and no one thinks any less of them. As a young man I struggled with ‘not being ok’ when I dealt with these challenges, so have a read of ‘man it’s ok to be depressed’ to find out more about how you can get past this.
5. Accept that you and everyone else around you will have your ups and downs
The way I see it, mental health is like any other sickness. You can catch it at any time. I do believe that often there is a reason why you are feeling down – it might be a breakup, the loss of a loved one, an overwhelming time.. But the important thing is to know that what goes up, must come down, and what goes down will eventually go back up. And what goes around comes back.. You know what I mean haha. Accept that at times you will feel happy, depressed, anxious, grateful, sad, angry, disappointed, excited.. and so on. Does anyone expect to live their whole life of 70 or 80 years being happy with a cheerful smile on their face the whole time? No way! So accept that you will have your ups and downs and know that things will always get better if you give it time.
So go out and spread the word about positive mental health and let’s remove some of the stigma around those dealing with anxiety and depression
So this World Mental Health Day, please spend some time working on your own and others mental health. Remember that it is important to let people know that it is ok to not be ok – and maybe you need to tell yourself this as well. Mental health has never been more important and it is up to us to take ownership of helping ourselves and those around us to improve the world we live in.
About the author – Stef – Mental Health Advocate
Stef is a mental health advocate who dedicates much of his free time to improving his own and others mental health. Click here to have a read about Stef’s story and why he is so passionate about mental health, wellness and positive living.