It may interest you to know that the World Health Organization estimates that one in eight people worldwide are living with mental health conditions. This is a staggering number and tells us that the care of our mental wellbeing is more important than ever.
Because it is so widespread, this topic that has gained significant attention in recent years, and rightfully so. It’s an integral part of our lives, influencing our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Yet, despite its importance, mental health is often misunderstood and overlooked. In this blog post, we’ll explore the impact of mental health on everyday people, shedding light on the challenges many face and emphasizing the importance of mental well-being.
The Everyday Struggles
Life is a rollercoaster of experiences, and everyone faces their fair share of ups and downs. However, for many individuals, these daily challenges can be amplified by mental health issues. Here are some ways mental health can show themselves:
Emotional Rollercoaster: A person can find themselves on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Anxiety, depression, and mood disorders can lead to intense feelings of sadness, fear, or irritability. These emotions can make even routine tasks feel overwhelming.
Relationships: Maintaining healthy relationships can be challenging when dealing with mental health issues. Communication may break down, and individuals could potentially isolate themselves, straining connections with loved ones.
Work and Productivity: Mental health struggles can interfere with one’s ability to focus, be productive, and maintain a steady work routine. This can impact job performance and career growth and even your feelings of self worth as our careers are often heavily tied to this.
Physical Health: Mental health and physical health are intricately connected. People dealing with chronic stress, anxiety, or depression may experience physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and even chronic illnesses.
Self-esteem: Low self-esteem often accompanies mental health challenges, making it difficult for individuals to feel confident in their abilities and decisions. This can also lead to someone second-guessing whether or not they are truly experiencing a mental health crisis because their low self esteem makes them feel as though their mind in unreliable.
Daily Functioning: Simple daily tasks such as getting out of bed, showering, personal hygiene or preparing meals can become monumental challenges for those grappling with mental health issues.
Like a lot of conditions, mental health is a spectrum. What may become difficult for one person, may not be so for another. This is why it’s important to remember to lead with kindness. What may seem like an obvious issue for one, may be undetectable in another, though they may be suffering similar circumstances. The old adage on not judging a book by its cover comes to mind.
Breaking the Stigma – Together
One of the biggest hurdles in addressing mental health is the persistent stigma associated with it. Many suffer in silence due to fear of judgment or discrimination. It’s crucial to understand that mental health issues are not a sign of weakness or a character flaw but a very common part of the human experience. By breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, we can create a more supportive and compassionate society.
Open Conversations: Initiating open and non-judgmental conversations about mental health can create a safe space for individuals to share their struggles and seek help when needed.
Educating Ourselves: Understanding the basics of mental health can help us recognize the signs of distress in ourselves and others.
Seek Professional Help: Mental health professionals are trained to provide guidance and support. Seeking their help is a proactive step towards improving mental well-being.
Supportive Networks: Building and maintaining a support system of friends and family who understand and empathize with mental health challenges can be a lifeline for many.
Self-Care: Prioritizing self-care is not selfish but necessary. Engaging in activities that bring joy, practicing mindfulness, and ensuring adequate rest and proper nutrition can help maintain mental wellness.
Physical Health: Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep contribute to both physical and mental well-being.
Realizing That Help is Available and Taking That Leap
It’s crucial to remember that help is available and coping is possible. Seeking assistance is a sign of strength and for many, recognizing when they need help and taking that first step towards it can be life-changing. We know it can be difficult but if you think you are experiencing poor mental health it could not be more important to reach out to a trusted physician. There are numerous ways a mental health condition can be treated/improved, including cognitive or behavioral therapies, medications or peer support. Your physician can assist you in finding the best support available for your personal needs.
The Importance of Self-Compassion
In our pursuit of better mental health, we must also remember the importance of self-compassion. We are often our own harshest critics, holding ourselves to unrealistic standards. Practicing self-compassion involves treating oneself with the same kindness and understanding as you would a friend. It means acknowledging that everyone has flaws and makes mistakes.
Understanding and addressing mental health is not a luxury but a necessity for all of us. It’s a vital aspect of our lives that deserves attention, care, and understanding. We can and should work together to create a world where everyone feels comfortable seeking the support they need to thrive.
On this World Mental Health Day, we are challenging our Members to check in on themselves. Ask yourself these questions that can help determine if you are struggling:
1. How have you been sleeping recently? Are you feeling more exhausted than usual?
2. Are you feeling stress or anxiety on a daily basis?
3. Are you finding social interaction to be difficult when normally you would enjoy it?
4. Have you had an opportunity to relax and do something you truly enjoy recently? Are the things you normally enjoy still enjoyable?
5. Have you noticed an upswing in negative self talk recently?
A disruption in your sleeping pattern can be a sign of mental (or physical) health issues.
Daily stress and anxiety are linked to depression, anxiety disorders and other mental health related conditions.
Not wanting to socialize when you normally find joy in it can be a sign of depression.
Inability to relax and/or not taking time for yourself can be a cause of a variety of mental health conditions.
Talking down to yourself is linked to a variety of mental health conditions.
In addition to reaching out to a medical professional, try the following:
1. Set a time to go to bed. Start winding down at least a half hour before hand. If you can avoid screens, that is a good way to alert your mind that you’re going into rest mode. Lower the lights, read a book, journal, do a puzzle, or chat with your spouse/partner.
2. Practice deep breathing techniques, journal about your day, reduce your caffeine intake.
3. Schedule a short catch up with a beloved friend or family Member. If talking on the phone or meeting in person feels like too much, sending a text to catch up is a great start.
4. Make some time for you. A walk-in nature, going to see a movie or theatre production, painting, preparing a really delicious meal, the options are endless. What’s important in doing something you enjoy, for you.
5. Start to slowly talk kinder to yourself. If you’re feeling that negative self talk ramp up, respond to yourself as you would someone you love and care about. You deserve that same compassion and empathy.
As with so many social changes, Unions have been at the forefront of changes for the social good. Mental health is no exception. Our Local has been working on mental health issues in the workplace directly and within our benefits and your legal rights.
We will continue this important work and want you to know we are here to help without judgment. We know:
You’ve got this.