Mental health issues are thought to affect as many as 1 in 4 adults in the UK at some point in their lifetimes. Despite the prevalence of mental health issues, however, there is often quite a poor understanding amongst the general population of how to maintain good mental health, and what to do if they suspect that things aren’t going well in that regard.
While neglecting our mental health is unfortunately all too easy to do, and the potential consequences are severe, the good news is that there are a number of simple things that we can all do in order to ensure our day to day wellbeing is maintained.
Many people have an understandable fear of the idea of developing a mental health issue, although in the majority of cases being diagnosed with such a condition is the first step towards restoring a healthy and happy lifestyle in individuals who have found themselves struggling more than usual.
In this article we have pieced together the very best words of advice from doctors and patients who have experience in dealing with mental health issues. These are all simple things that any of us can do in order to ensure that we stand the best chance possible of avoiding developing a mental health issue.
The importance of exercise to our physical health is widely understood, we all know that if we don’t get enough exercise, then we run the risk of developing a number of health issues, including obesity. Along with a well-rounded and carefully planned out diet, exercise is an essential component for maintaining our physical health. But fewer people are aware of the important role that exercise plays in ensuring that our mental health also remains intact.
Exercising encourages us to go outside, this in itself is often very helpful in dealing with mental health issues. Many mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, strongly deters sufferers from setting foot outside, but the isolation that this creates is a problem in and of itself, and one that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
When we exercise, our brains release endorphins and dopamine, both of which are associated with better moods and a sense of wellbeing, this underscores just how intimately linked our psychological and physical health is: when one of these things is neglected, the other will inevitably suffer too.
Unsurprisingly, those who suffer with mental health issues often experience higher general levels of stress in their day to day lives. The effects of stress play out in both the short and long term; in the short-term, stress can deter us from exercising, socialising, or engaging in our day to day routine. The cumulative long-term effects of this are an overall worse quality of life as well as a higher susceptibility to both mental and physical illnesses. Minimizing the amount of stress in our lives is one of the most important things we can do to protect our mental health.
As mentioned above, exercise is a great way to reduce stress, but there are a number of other things we can do. For example, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that listening to music whose tone fits with our current emotional state can help us to work through those emotions. This is why many people reach for sad songs when they themselves feel sad. Far from wallowing in their own pity, they are in fact administering an effective cure for their condition.
Tackling mental health issues alone is an approach which is doomed to failure. Sufferers of mental health issues should no more treat their own mental illness than they should treat their own broken leg! It is important that if you suspect that you might be suffering from a mental illness that you inform your doctor as soon as possible in order to discover treatment options.
Many people with a mental illness find that they struggle to find stable employment; for these individuals, there are benefits which they can claim. The government runs an access to work scheme which is designed to help those with a mental illness find their way back into the world of employment and Mental Health and Money Advice have information about this on their website.
Support can also come from friends, family, and healthcare professionals. It is entirely up to the patient who they feel most comfortable reaching out to for support and it is important that they are not pressured into revealing more about their condition than they feel comfortable with.
The rates at which mental health issues occur appears to be on the increase. This might have more to do with our improved ability to diagnose them, but whatever the cause, adults in the UK are more likely to face mental health problems than ever before. It is important that when they occur, sufferers understand what support they can seek out and how to do so.