The World Mental Health Day is set on Oct 10th every year where everyone recognizes and tries to spread the word about mental health awareness all around the world. The theme for World Mental Health Day 2019 was Focus on Suicide Prevention.
According to World Health Organization, someone loses their life to suicide every 40 seconds.
The scale of which the program is run is to improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide and remove the stigma it comes with. The removal of the stigma also gives hope to those who are struggling in knowing that they are not alone.
The Invisible Enemy Noone Talks About
To admit that you’re struggling with mental health is not the norm no matter where you live.
Hence, when you know someone is struggling mentally, it’s the elephant in the room during family or friendly gatherings. It’s only when tragedies like the ones of Kate Spade, the powerhouse designer, and Anthony Bourdain, the well-loved chef, and world traveler, hit the news that we wonder what we’ve missed.
Sadly, it is only possible in hindsight.
The unwillingness to address mental health issues and lack of sympathetic or empathic understanding has been held up to the light by the media, proponents, and the advertising industry of late.
Heather Pieske, the Executive Creative Director of Vox Creative, revealed that, during the early days of her career, she felt the weight of the illness when she found it acceptable to call in sick because of a cold but had to soldier the day through when she was suffering from a manic episode.
Calling in ‘sad’ wasn’t the same as calling in ‘sick’.
While the world has changed tremendously over the years, becoming more understanding and emphatic, the reality is that people are still being fired for talking about it to their superiors at work. People are encouraged to ‘come out’ and ‘talk about it’ but risk a pushback if they do.
So, if you’re a superior or manager and have someone come up to talk to you about how they’re feeling, we hope you’ll bear in mind that at the heart of it all, who you’re dealing with is not just an employee. You’re dealing with a human being with real emotions.
The Rise in Mental Health Illnesses During Covid-19
Everyone reacts differently to situations, especially when it concerns a disease that seems to have no solution in sight.
People are overwhelmed with the stress, anxiety and worry about their health, conditions of their loved ones, eating and sleeping patterns, financial difficulties, job complications, increased use of substance or medication, responsibilities of caring for family members who are first responders, with disabilities, or with mental health conditions.
That’s why the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has placed emphasis on caring for oneself on top of caring for others around us to better cope with the new level of stress. When you are in a good mental space, you’re better able to provide support to an anxious family or community.
During a health crisis that bears weight on the mental health situation of everyone all around the world, we should make an effort to stay connected with people around us.
Fatigue from Making Crucial Decisions
Decision Fatigue is particularly common with people who shoulder the responsibility of leading a community, country, or family. We’re in a situation where we’re walking a tightrope deciding whether we should wear a mask to the mall or take the broken-down car to the mechanic or trade it in.
"Decision fatigue is the newest discovery involving a phenomenon called ego depletion, a term coined by the social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister in homage to a Freudian hypothesis." - John Tierney, NYT
This was cited as one of the biggest mental hurdles parents have to go through during the respective country’s lockdowns - Coronavirus decision fatigue.
Parents make tens of thousands of decisions every day on autopilot and it could result in an overload. Experts recommend relying on predictability, trust in the authorities, and usage of lists to get us past the anxiety and stress.
Establish criteria for big decisions and once you’ve made the decision, don't look back. Fretting about a decision tends to rattle our already-fraught minds. This is the theory behind the 100 percent rule which recommends making unbending rules during the Covid Crisis.
“Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again.” - Michael Jordan
That’s why we need to focus on how to protect our mental health.
Things To Do to Protect Our Mental Health
Talk about your feelings with people you trust - In isolation, it makes things worse when you think nobody understands you or you stand alone. Talking about your feelings is not a weakness, it is a strength. It’s taking charge of your mental health and emotional well-being.
Being physically active - Not only does it keep your body healthy, but it gives your mind a break too. Apart from hitting the gym, taking walks in the park, gardening, or doing housework is considered great activities to keep the body moving and the mind happy.
Pay attention to what you eat - Paying attention to what you put in your mouth and the amount you drink plays an important role in how you’re feeling. Eat at least three meals a day regularly, drink plenty of water, limit your caffeine intake, and reduce sugary drinks and alcohol. We also need to control substance abuse that is a step away from real mental health issues.
Constant connection - Who you keep in touch with during tough times can be your mental health savior. Forming ties with your family or a circle of friends helps you deal with the stresses of everyday life. When you’re confused or worried, a different perspective keeps you grounded, keeps you calm, and helps you find practical solutions.
- Give yourself a break - Even a five-minute break can make a huge difference in how you cope with stress and anxiety. A change of pace or scenery like a weekend of exploring somewhere new is considered a wonderful way to simply break the norm up. It gives you renewed energy and confidence to deal with daily situations.
The First Step to Protect Your Mental Health...
...is to acknowledge its presence and power. To beat mental health at its own game is to acknowledge its existence and its effect on us.
Associations like Made of Millions have been trying to make the world a better place with their advocacy since its inception. It is a non-profit group that aims to change how the world views people with mental health conditions through its outreach programs.
If you’re a parent, check out Boys Town’s Parenting Guide for more information on how to deal with children dealing with mental health issues.
A part of being human is to embrace our humanity and that includes our fragility and health. We believe that art, music, and habits help us deal with stress, anxiety, and depression.
“...creative self- expression in a therapeutic environment can help reduce stress." - Girija Kaimal, EdD. Associate Professor of Creative Arts Therapies Department of Drexel University
So, be selfish, be expressive, be emotive, and be yourself. Because it’s healthy.
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