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The Mass Media

Mental Health: Tips and its importance

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.”– Glenn Close. 

With World Mental Health Awareness Day happening on Oct. 10, 2020, I wanted to shine a light on the topic of mental health. I will define what mental health is and clear up certain misconceptions regarding the topic of mental health and mental illnesses. I will give a few tips on how one can improve their mental health, and finally, give some advice on how someone can help their loved one with improving their mental health. 

What is mental health? When one talks about their mental health, they are usually referring to an individual’s cognitive and emotional behavior (1). Some mental health disorders include clinical depression, various anxiety disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and so forth. 

Before delving further into the topic of mental health, I’d just like to debunk some misconceptions revolving around the topic. First off, some may say, “Your life is going great, nothing is wrong: therefore you should have stable mental health” (2). However,  it is not that easy for everybody. People who suffer from certain mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, or even bipolar disorder understand that for the time being, there is nothing wrong going on in their lives. But there will always be that constant fear of what-ifs, and constant worry that something might go wrong at any moment. Sometimes, these thoughts overcrowd the individual’s mind, making them feel stuck and hopeless and dragging them away from the reality that they are currently living in. 

Another common misconception about mental health makes the claim that “If you’re not mentally ill, then you are mentally healthy” (2). Once again, this is not necessarily true. Especially during these unusual times, where nothing is promised. It is a time where we don’t know what may happen in the future. It is a time where thinking about the future can trigger stress and anxiety, even to the healthiest individuals both physically and mentally. Studies show that only 17 percent of adults are living in their prime state of mental health (2). When thinking about this certain misconception, it’s as if you are telling someone that since they are considered to be physically healthy, that they can’t get injured or later on suffer from a certain disease. Just like we don’t have the right to diagnose someone to have a certain mental illness, we also don’t have the right to claim that since they aren’t dealing with a mental illness, then they are mentally healthy. 

The final misconception is that mental illness prefers one gender over the other. In other words, “Men do not suffer from any source of mental illness and are known to have a stable mental health.”  The reality of the situation is that, just like women, men do suffer from mental illness and have days where their mental health is not at the optimum expectation. Studies show that there are more than six million men in the U.S. experiencing symptoms of depression each year (3). Also, these studies show that more than three million men suffer from an anxiety disorder (3).  And yet, the reason why society believes that mental health is more prevalent in women than it is in men is that women tend to seek out help more than men do, and stereotypically, women are labeled as more emotional beings. Sometimes men (not all) feel as if they cannot express their feelings or reach out to help due to the toxic expectations placed upon men when it comes to masculinity. This can result in everlasting anger issues in men or even depression. According to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “Men die by suicide 3.56 times more often than women” (3). This data was recorded in the year 2018, so these numbers could have increased by now. 

Now that the main misconceptions regarding the topic of mental health and mental illnesses have been debunked, let’s discuss the importance of mental health. What certain individuals don’t understand is that a person’s mental health and their physical health are correlated with one another. They are interchangeable. If a person does not have good mental health, then this will eventually lead to a negative impact on their physical health as well. As a matter of fact, research shows that people who have dealt with the highest levels of stress were more likely to have died from cancer (4). On the other hand, people who have dealt with depression are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (4). 

As you can see, mental health is an important topic to be discussed. Honestly, if it wasn’t that important, would they have given its own day? The answer to this is no. This is why people need to start being more aware of their own mental state and to take care of themselves mentally. Because if you work on yourself, then everything else will be at ease. There are some activities listed down below that can be done to improve your mental health, whether as a one-off activity or something that can be integrated into your daily routines. Although these activities are not promised to help you feel better, they are things that have worked out for me personally. 

The first thing I would recommend is to take a break. Sometimes all we need is a break; a break from social media, from school, from the real world, and all of its struggles. This break can range from anything. It can be blocking out the rest of the world and listening to your favorite songs, getting some well-needed sleep, or watching a good heartfelt comedy show. Although these activities may bring limited comfort, they do tend to relax you and get your mind off anything that is stressing you. Even if it is only for the time being, that first step is some sort of progress. 

The second thing I would recommend is to try eating your favorite meal. When I am feeling sad, the only thing that can bring me comfort is a good old burger and fries. Eating your favorite meal might be the only thing good about your day, but at least it’s making you happy and that’s a step. 

In addition, try to spend some quality time with the ones that you love. Need I say more? Hanging out with the ones you love, and the ones that love you can definitely improve one’s mental health. With these kinds of people around you, you are being surrounded by positivity. Sometimes you just want someone to be there, to sit next to you, and remind you that you are not alone in this world. That you are loved and needed. Try to reach out to these people in your life, it may be easy to shut them out, but they may actually help you more than you expected. 

Furthermore, if you are having anxiety, you can try to find something simple to do to release your anxiety. For example, you can chew some gum. This has not been found according to any source of my research.  However, it is a little tip coming from me. Kind of like a stress ball, I find that chewing some gum helps me out when I’m stressed and anxious. There’s something about chewing down on that piece of gum with power and blowing bubbles that relieves my stress. (Again, this is more of a personal tip). 
 

Continuing, I believe that a lot of individuals struggling with their mental health can sometimes overthink the past and hold onto things that continue to give them anxiety. Work to forgive yourself for the past mistakes that you may have made. I’m guilty of constantly beating myself up about the past mistakes that I’ve made in my life, whether it be three days ago or three years ago. But I always remind myself that in the end I’m human, and humans make mistakes; we learn, we grow, and we adapt. If you recognize your mistakes, and you own up to them, then there is really nothing else one can do. 
 

Another helpful tip for anxiety is to practice your breathing. With all the distractions going on around us, we tend to forget to just relax and take a deep breath. Most of the time that’s all we need. 
 

You should also try to find healthy coping mechanisms for expressing your inner feelings and emotions. Sometimes individuals find it hard to open up face to face with another person. That is okay! It is a process to open up. First, maybe start with writing down your feelings and what your mind is going through. This can allow you to organize your thoughts. Admitting your feelings out loud, whether it be to someone else or on a piece of paper, is one step closer to relieving yourself. 
 

Moreover, some individuals who sometimes struggle with their mental health can have a harder time taking care of themselves physically. Hygiene can fluctuate during certain times. Of course, do this at your own pace, but try to motivate yourself to take a shower. A good long shower or bath can not only clean your body, but it can also relieve your mind. Some say physically feeling and looking better can help boost one’s mood. 
 

Lastly and probably the most important is to seek some help. This is the last tip, because it is considered to be the last resort to many. The reason behind this is because it takes a lot of courage for people to admit that they need help from someone else. In addition to that, help is not always the most cost-effective option, which is something that definitely needs to be worked on. However, if you can find the courage to reach out, just talking to someone else can lift a lot of weight off of your shoulders. This is the first step to a greater healing process. 

 

Of course, various other things can be done to improve our own mental health. The realdepressionproject on Instagram has a post that lists 50 activities that one can do to improve/nourish your mental health. Most of these activities listed have been inspired by that specific post.  

This leaves us with the last question, a question that we all wonder at some point in our lives. How can we help a friend that is dealing with mental health problems? Everyone is different when it comes to coping with their issues. The first thing one should probably do is remind them that you are there for them. That you are ready to listen and talk, but only when they are ready. Remind them that they are loved and that you need them in your life. Remind them of all the great attributes that they hold and bring into your life. But most of all, remind them that no matter how alone they feel, they are not alone and that you will always be there for them. Again, everyone is different; however offering this support can be helpful. 

In conclusion, I cannot stress this enough, mental health is very important. This whole stigma revolving around the topic of mental health needs to be broken as soon as possible. Not only for our sake but for the sake of future generations as well. Take care of yourself, take care of others, and always remember to be kind, because you never know what other people can be going through. 
 

  1. https://policyadvice.net/insurance/insights/mental-health-statistics/#:~:text=Most%20Fascinating%20Mental%20Health%20Statistics%20and%20Facts%20%282020%29,help%2C%20therapy%2C%20and%20family%20assistance.%20More%20items…%20

  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201511/the-5-most-common-misconceptions-about-mental 

  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/mens-mental-health-man-up-is-not-the-answer 

  4. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/physical-health-and-mental-health 

  5. https://www.theactivetimes.com/healthy-living/walks-outside-change-life-gallery/slide-2