Mental Health as a life long journey
October 10th is World’s Mental Health Day. It A day recognized by the World Health Organization to raise awareness for mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of them. World Mental Health was first commemorated in 1992 as a way to promote advocacy and to educate the public on issues related to mental health. In recent years, there has been a consistent increase in awareness on this topic and a continuous effort to make mental health a priority for intervention. This has created space for conversations and discussions to be held and provided opportunities and access to resources for people. It has also become a trending topic in many social media platforms as people express their thoughts and opinions around the subject.
But what is Mental Health?
What are we talking about when we say mental health is as important as our physical health? And how do we achieve it?
A broad definition of mental health usually includes the term wellbeing and psychological and emotional components. A more specific concept includes a description of what a positive mental health looks like. The ability to cope with life stressors, contributing to the community and reaching someone’s potential are some of the markers. Again, what does this mean? There is a wide range of variability regarding this definition. Is it the ability to be in peace? is it using breathing exercises? Is it living a symptoms free life?
There is an extensive spectrum of markers that can determine someone’s mental health. Mental health is not the lack of mental disorders. It is not about the ability to take time out of your busy schedule for some self-care. Mental health is about using our biological ability to adapt and the effects it has in our lives.
What if mental health was measured in terms of the amount of times you are able to live by your principles and objectives instead of just reacting? What if our own mental health was observed as a continuum and something that we constantly need to work on? Not something to achieve but something that you continually observe and evaluate.
Mental health starts with self-awareness; the conscious knowledge of our own character, feelings, thoughts, strengths, weaknesses, sensitivities, fears and goals. Working on intentionally knowing yourself provides opportunities to live a life where emotions and intellect balance each other out. Where we live a life based on principles and goals and where we account and respond to the decisions we make every day. Where we define who we are and what we believe and what we are willing to do or not do and manage ourselves in significant relationships.
Using self-awareness as a roadmap towards mental health provides the opportunity to have some control over our own mental health meaning. It allows the opportunity to know that as long an we continue to focus on the gaps in maturity that we can observe in all aspects of our life, we will continue to improve our lives.
Self-awareness and the ability to use this information to self regulate, manage relationships and live a principled life may be the key to a life-long journey of working on our mental health.