Mental health. A taboo subject for some, but one I wanted to address. I am currently working in a mental health hospital and this has placed me in a good position to see how different mental health conditions affect the daily living of some people. Our mind, mood and mindset are all driving factors on our lifestyle. How we spend our day, what we enjoy doing and how we treat others is all affected by the state of our mind.
The term “mental health” often has a negative connotation as it conjures up the image of a “crazy” person, probably quite dirty looking and talking to themselves. This is wrong – just like any other organ in the body, the brain and mind can become unwell. The difference between this and the majority of physical illnesses is that mental health disorders can be visible to those around us. Behaviour changes and actions take place that perhaps the premorbid self of the individual would not done; consequently, judgements are passed and gossip starts.
1 in 6 adults in the UK are said to have a mental health disorder. Between 4-10% of people in Britain will experience some sort of mental health problem in their lifetime. These are just statistics generated from those cases which are known; many people with issues around their mental health do not seek professional help from healthcare practitioners. What we can take away from this is that anybody can be affected by a condition that psychologically torments the sufferer. It may be something that develops to an extent that you require medical attention and treatment. However, it could also be changes in your mood as a consequence of your surroundings. Mental wellbeing needs to be addressed just as much as we talk about physical health.
Your child’s teacher who smiles lovingly at the class, the postman who always says good morning, the lady behind the till at your supermarket who kindly helps your pack your shopping bags, the cousin who calls you all the time for catch up, your best friend who is always there the moment you need her – would you think any of them are suffering? Perhaps not if they smile and seem “normal”. This does not mean that they may not be dealing with some difficulty in their life.
One of the things I take away most after seeing patient’s in my clinic is how much a few moments of kindness can lift the mood of someone who is struggling. I sit and I listen because that is sometimes that is what is needed. Everybody needs their thoughts to be listened to. Everybody needs some love and compassion, however small it is. This may not completely alter what an individual may be experiencing but it does make a change to their day.
Be conscious of those around you and give some kindness to everyone in your path. Be conscious of your own wellbeing and look after your mind as much as you look after the rest of you.