Sunday 14 May 2017

Nerd Church - Mental Health 101

(Warning: This post discusses mental health problems and stigma.)

Mental Health Awareness Week is 8-14th May in the UK.

mental health scrabble tiles picture

Let's take things back to the basics.

To people who have never had mental health problems, it can be all too easy to believe misconceptions.

The worst of these are stigmatising:

The ideas that people with mental health problems are weak, faking it, wanting the attention, whiners etc., as well as that people with mental health problems are inherently dangerous, or to blame for their conditions.

What are mental health problems/mental health conditions?

Mental health problems, and mental health conditions, are blanket terms for a range of disorders which affect the way you think, feel, and act.

These disorders are not the same as simply acting a bit odd or feeling a bit off.

The phrase 'mental health problems' is sometimes used to describe mental health disorders, and sometimes to describe things which are related to those disorders - for example, I have had eating problems related to my depression, but have not had an eating disorder.

What are typical mental health problems/mental health conditions?

There is NO SUCH THING as typical mental health problems, simply because these disorders are so bound up in your individual situation, thoughts, past history, and even personality.

There are however disorders which follow certain patterns and symptoms, which is how we get diagnoses.

What are some common mental health conditions?

You may be familiar with one or more of these well-known mental health conditions (links are to the Mind mental health charity information pages):

Of course, there are many others, and mental health problems are often complex and can be a combination of two or more problems.

If you have a mental health condition, are you ill?


Not only is everyday life often a challenge because you don't always act in the way people expect, but you feel like absolute sh** a lot of the time.

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The fact is, mental health is something that everyone has. Just like everyone has physical health - whether good or not-so-good.

So, to recap:

Everyone has mental health. Some people have mental health problems and/or mental health conditions.

Just like you can exercise, eat right, drink water, etc. to protect your physical health, there are things you can do to protect your mental health.

These things are not so obvious. This is largely because they are very individual-based. It's all about you and what you need.

This overall protection of your health and wellbeing is called self care. (And given the lack of affective mental health support in a lot of areas - like mine - it's kind of useful.)

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So what can you do to support good mental health?

It's going to be a little trial-and-error.

Some people find yoga and mindfulness and all that jazz to be helpful, but I don't have time for all that hippie stuff.

(My parents are hippies, which has resulted in my complete lack of patience for anything that includes the words 'spiritual,' 'meditation,' 'aura,' 'yoga,' 'cleanse,' or 'inner peace.'

Maybe my saturation levels for New Age stuff is too high, who knows? But I don't trust it - I get suspicious and/or bored.

I also dislike incense intensely and never want to hear pan flute music ever again. Breathing techniques actually make me more tense. #TrueStory.)

BUT if that stuff works for you, then freaking use it!

Do what's good for you!

There are other things you can do though.

Check out The Mental Health Foundation's 'How to look after your mental health' as a place to start.

Some other things include:

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If you are really struggling - please go to your doctor and get help.

There are also helplines you can use.

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  1. Thank you for this post, Cee! It's always a great topic to go back to, as it's still so important and still holds a lot of misconceptions! Especially when people think they don't have mental health. Like nope, if you have a brain, you have mental health!

    1. Thanks :)

      And yes! Everyone has mental health!!!

  2. Self care is definitely a personal, subjective thing. I've never been a yoga/meditation person either. And incense gives me headaches lol. When I was in high school and part of college, I kept a journal of sorts (on my computer) that I wrote in almost every day, and even though wasn't doing it for any specific reason, I think it probably was good for my mental health since it was a way to reflect on my day and sort out my thoughts and feelings when I needed to. So journaling really can be helpful I think!

    1. Every time I've tried to keep a journal, I've forgotten about it completely! Lol. I can be pretty disorganised (like... at all times!)

      I've found that making lists of good things that happened in a day (and good things about myself - which I struggle with a lot more!) has a good effect. I also love activity books aimed at kids of about 10+ (I know, clearly I'm a child) because a lot of the activities are both creative, and a fun way to think things through. (And are fun in general!)

      I also like the odd bit of colouring - just not as much as my mother does! :)

  3. Awesome post Cee! We know so much now and we still have so much to learn about how to treat mental illnesses, how to support love ones and how to self-care. Great tips!

    1. Thanks very much :)

      It's definitely important to keep talking about mental health - there's so much that people still don't get, and so many people who are damaged by misconceptions. I've always tried to be brutally honest on this blog about my mental health, and mental health in general.

      One of the main reasons I started blogging was that books were what was keeping me going - I can safely say that both books and blogging are on the list of random things that have saved my life!

  4. It' so true that perceptions f mental health can be way off. I guess because these are invisible illnesses, but they are illnesses nonetheless. Well said #RV&HT

  5. Great post, there's a surprising number of people who don't really understand that mental health problems exist because they've not experienced them themselves. It can be hard to explain to those who don't understand xx



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