Your mental health matters
October is known as Mental Health Awareness Month. The objective of dedicating the month to mental health awareness is not only to educate people about mental health but also to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people with mental illnesses are subjected to.
The latest Mental State of the World report has identified South Africa as the lowest-ranking country based on mental well-being. It also revealed how the mental health of younger generations has plummeted; growing up in an internet dominated and inequitable world. South Africa carries a huge burden of mental illnesses with the most prevalent being anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders, mood disorders and depression. As many as one in six South Africans suffer from anxiety, depression or substance abuse problems according to statistics released by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group.
Furthermore, research reveals that over 40% of people living with HIV in South Africa have a diagnosable mental disorder.
In line with this year’s World Mental Health Day theme, we want to encourage everyone to make their mental health and well-being a priority!
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. If affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices. Ultimately good mental health ripples into everything we do, think or say.
Maintaining positive mental health and treating any mental health conditions is crucial to stabilising behaviours, emotions and thoughts. Focusing on mental health care can increase productivity, enhance our self-image and improve relationships.
Nurturing mental health doesn’t just improve our daily functioning, but it also help us control, or at least combat, some of the physical health problems directly linked to mental health conditions. For example, heart disease and stress are related, so managing stress might reduce heart disease.
Other benefits of taking care of our mental health can include:
- Improving mood
- Reducing anxiety
- Creating an enhanced sense of inner peace
- Improving relationships
- Increasing self-esteem
Mental health is important at every stage of our life. From infancy all the way into adulthood – mental health is something we need to be cognizant of and handle with care. Having a solid foundation when it comes to mental health means you can:
- Have productive, healthy relationships.
- Cope with daily stress in life.
- Establish a positive sense of self.Stay motivated, physically active and healthy.
- Be more productive at work and school.
- Make meaningful connections and contributions to the community.
- Work towards achieving your full potential.
The following have the potential to positively affect mental stability and health:
- Seeking therapy by reaching out to an AskNelson counsellor
- Practising mindfulness
- Yoga or low-impact exercise
- Learning to communicate effectively can be great for mental and emotional health
There are some factors that can negatively influence mental stability and health as well, including:
- Past trauma, abuse or neglect
- Long-term or severe stress
- Social isolation
- Long-term physical ailments
- Social disadvantages
- Financial stress
- A breakup or divorce
- Dysfunctional family life
Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and well-being:
- Connect with other people
- Be physically active
- Learn new skills
- Give to others
- Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)
Dates to Remember
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
10 October – World Mental Health Awareness Day
17 October – World Trauma Day
21 September to 18 October – Eye Care Awareness Week