Mental Health Awareness Week is 8-14th May in the UK.
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 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.
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):
The fact is, mental health is something that everyone has. Just like everyone has physical health - whether good or not-so-good.
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.)
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:
- Really pinning down what you are feeling and why - talk it out, write it out, whatever; but take it slow 'cos that kind of sh** can get heavy fast. Be careful.
- Treat yourself. Me-time is important. Spoiling yourself can be a good thing.
- Get creative. Try colouring or another creative hobby, like writing. (Just don't expect masterpieces.)
- Celebrate the small stuff.