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Mental Health in Australia – The definition of the issues that we all face

WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH ?

Mental health is a topic frequently mentioned around Perth. The term 'Mental Health' is commonly used to describe the wellness or otherwise of the psychological aspect of you as a person. Mental health exists due the absence of mental illness.

When your mental health is good, you will function satisfactorily alone and with others, and will adjust to environments, circumstances and people accordingly in a way that maintains balance. Poor mental health in Australia goes undiagnosed in the community.

MENTAL HEALTH DEFINITION

Mental health is a positive expression or a statement of the condition of your mental life, whereas we term mental illness to be indicative or some disturbance to your wellbeing. 

The World Heath Organisation (WHO) uses the following as a Mental Health definition:

“A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential. The individual can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community in some constructive way.”

TEN TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Here are 10 practical ways to alleviate any mental health issues and maintain your overall mental wellness :

  1. Keep Fit and Active – You need to regularly use your body which will help you feel more grounded, raise your self esteem, help with maintaining your weight and improve your sleep.
  2. Have a Good Diet – you need a good balance of all nutrients to enable your body and mind to function well.
  3. Drink Responsibly – You may use alcohol to self medicate, particularly if you have feelings of loneliness or are frightened.  Drinking may initially help you to relax, but once the drink has worn off, the alcohol makes you feel sluggish and tired.
  4. Get Enough Sleep – Try and go to bed at the same time every night.  Shut down electronic devices at least an hour before bed and resist caffeinated drinks.
  5. Discuss your Feelings – As the saying goes “A trouble shared is a trouble halved”.  Find a trusted friend or consider seeing a good counsellor or psychotherapist who is both empathic and supportive.
  6. Rest and Relax – Take regular breaks during your day to help you de-stress and break up your routine
  7. Practice a Random Act of Kindness - By helping out someone deserving of your help, you take the focus of yourself which helps avert your ruminating thoughts.
  8. Practice Gratitude – This helps you avoid thinking negatively and helps reduce symptoms of depression by making you less self-centred.
  9. Practice Yoga and Meditation – Practiced for thousands of years, these tried and trusted techniques promote body and mind wellness and over time change the neurological wiring in your body and mind, so you are wired more for positivity.
  10. Practice Acceptance – You will start to feel more compassion for yourself and others.  You will also start to forgive people more and let go of the past in a healthy way.

BEING OK RATHER THAN PERFECT

Mental health can exist distinct and apart from physical health but the two are often reflective of the other, and may indeed be a contributory cause of the positive or negative state of the other.  A common instance of this truth is seen in elite sports people in Perth whom from time to time a media article is published, that a superb athlete in top physical condition is struggling with a condition such as Depression or Chronic Anxiety.

We live in a society that is obsessed with physical appearance and beauty, and which by definition promotes physical health and fitness. However mental health which is not clearly visible in a person, and which may be subject to cover-ups by the person where mental illness exists, has only recently started to become an acceptable topic of self admission in some social settings.

Mental health then, starts with being in truth with yourself about how you are thinking, feeling, behaving, and identifying with yourself. Mental health is built on a concept of being OK, and definitely not trying to identify with being perfect, which is itself a subtle form of mental illness.

Being OK means that accept yourself warts and all. It does not mean that you do not strive or have goals to improve or be better in some way, for having purpose and goals in life can be part of that which promotes your mental health.

You can be OK with yourself and accept you are not in your optimal self, but have the grace to accept that, with the goal and techniques to evolve further over time. If you are not OK with who you are, then it will be hard to claim mental health or wellness, as the negation of yourself as not being OK, is the source and origin of numerous mental illnesses.

Being OK then means you are interested in looking after the various dimensions of yourself, such as your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and energetic selves. Nurturing these aspects of yourself will build a platform for mental health.

The key things to avoid are the extremes in life. Be moderate in all things and only strive for extreme outcomes if that is tied to an explicit goal. Avoid perfectionism, avoid negativity and avoid addictive or compulsive objects and minds.

IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL CONNECTIONS

The social engagement aspect of yourself also plays a part in your mental health. The degree to which you have authentic friendships and connection to others in your day to day life also is part of what creates and maintains your mental health.

Learning to have appropriate boundaries and expectations of yourself and others is another aspect of mental health. Your relatedness to yourself and to others often denotes where you lie on the continuum of mental health.

HAVING MEANING AND PURPOSE

Maintaining mental health is an ongoing process that has several layers of self that should be tended to. As well as addressing the physical, mental and inter-personal aspects, you may want to consider developing your mind through inquiry, learning and moral compass development.

Mental health has a relationship to the meaning and purpose you make of yourself in the world and in your life. People who have found meaning and purpose have been shown to have a degree of resilience in life when setbacks occur, and resilience is one of those factors which sustains and protects your mental health when you come under duress or stress at some stage in your life.  You may wish to expand and explore your identity through finding a vocation which resonates with a deeper purpose within you.

CONCLUSION

Our Energetics Institute Counselling and Psychotherapy in Perth understands that your mental health will affect the health of other aspects of yourself. For instance, when mental health declines there may be a decline in physical appetite or drive, or the immune system in the body may become compromised and you start to get recurrent minor inflammations, bugs, colds and viruses going around.

Your Mental Health is Your Wealth. You may be the most beautiful, intelligent, affluent and talented person in the world.  But you have nothing, if you don’t have your mental health.  Mental health involves all aspects of your being, i.e. mental, physical, emotional and spiritual realms.  They all must be in balance to enable you lead a healthy, fulfilled and peaceful life.

If you are based in Perth, Western Australia, and you feel you need to jump start your mental wellness journey and learn further tips and tools to improve your mental health, please feel free to get in touch with us.  Otherwise consider seeing a professional in your area who specialises in providing mental health services.

Copyright 2015 Richard Boyd

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