The Importance of Mental Health

October 18, 2016

The Importance of Mental Health

Mental health issues are often overlooked when when discussing a healthy lifestyle, yet taking care of your mental health is just as vital as eating well and exercising.

The term mental health ranges from stress about everyday relationships, schoolwork, and activities, to serious mental illnesses like depression and a variety of anxiety and eating disorders. Mental illnesses are caused by a complex combination of biological, genetic, personality, and environmental factors.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, it has been estimated that approximately 10-20% of youth in Canada experience some form of a mental illness or disorder. And only one in five Canadian children who need professional help receive it.

Signs of mental illness to look out for include confusion, sustained sadness, irritability, or depression, feelings of extreme highs and lows, as well as a huge number of fears, worries and anxieties. Also be on the lookout for social withdrawal, intense and sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, strange thoughts and intense anger. 

If you or one of your friends could be struggling with mental health issues, talk to an expert as soon as possible.

I am not a professional, but I have gathered some advice that I have found very useful over the years. If you think you may be struggling with a mental health issue, the advice below could be helpful for you:

Talk to people about how you feel. Whether this is a parent, teacher, counselor, coach or other trusted adult does not matter - but be sure to talk to an adult who you trust. Oftentimes issues can be overlooked by people or brushed off as a “rough patch” by friends. However, there are many times when the problem is more serious than you may realize and a trusted adult can help you figure out how to address it.

When you feel alone, find someone to talk to. It is very tough feeling alone - no matter where you turn it seems like you have no one. But I can assure you, you are not alone. Try to take a moment to get out of your headspace and look for someone close to you that you can express your feelings of loneliness to. Many times (but definitely not always - loneliness comes in all forms), there will be a bigger issue that you are burying and feel like you can’t talk to anyone about. If you can pinpoint something larger that is gnawing at you and deal with it, chances are, you will end up feeling a lot better.

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help when you need it. There is an unnecessary stigma around mental health in general, but particularly when it comes to getting professional help. Always remember that your personal health is most important. You will have people to support you no matter what, so don’t ever worry about what other people would think because you should always be your number one priority. If you need somewhere to get help, click here.

Take time for yourself. Reflect on the way that you are feeling and ask yourself if you have always been feeling this way, or if it is a recent change in mood or behaviour. Writing your feelings down in a diary or journal is a good way to process all you’ve been going through and may help you and your loved ones pinpoint exactly what the issue is

When there is too much going on, try to make lists. Lists can be a super helpful way to see everything you have to do at a glance rather than having everything floating around in your head. You can cross tasks off or put a checkmark beside them when completed. This will help you to feel a sense of accomplishment and will give you ease knowing that you’re one thing closer to finishing the list.

Prioritize. When life gets so hectic that it feels like there isn’t even a second to sneak in an extra breath, it is important to figure out what tasks on your to-do list are most vital. You may even want to try a number ranking system from most important to least important so that the pertinent things get crossed off first.

If you are being bullied (as hard as it may be) you need to speak up. You need to speak up for your own sake. It is not the bully who is constantly being torn down and provoked, it is you, and this is both physically and mentally draining. As well, bullying - especially when it goes on for a long period of time - can lead to more serious mental conditions down the line. The bottom line is - help to stop it when it happens to you or if you see it happening to someone else. It takes courage to step in, but it could change someone’s life.

Do things that you love, not just things that you need to do. This is something that a lot of people tend to find really hard at times. When life gets hectic, hobbies and fun tend to get pushed to the bottom of to-do lists. But it is not healthy to try to get everything done all in one sitting - your brain needs breaks and stimulation from the things you love to be happy and healthy.

I hope that this information and some of these tips helped you guys. Just remember, never be afraid to talk about what is going on in your life because that is often the most important thing you can do for yourself.