Tina Hesse is Service Manager for the Early Intervention Service at CAMHS.
Today (10 October) is World Mental Health Day, which gives us a good opportunity to talk about mental health, what it means, and how important it is.
Mental health as a continuum
Often, we only talk about our mental health when it seems to have deteriorated: in reality, mental health is on a continuum.
By viewing mental health as a continuum, it means that we can act before our mental health severely deteriorates. This, in turn, enables us to seek support, and consider what self-care can be included into our day-to-day routines.
Looking at mental health as a continuum also gives us the ability to look out for friends and family and encourage them to maintain their mental health.
The link between mental and physical health
Research consistently shows a link between mental health and physical health: poor mental health can lead to physical ill health and vice versa.
For example, someone who is suffering from depression is less likely to exercise: over time, a lack of exercise can impact on their energy levels, and (long-term) their cardiovascular fitness and strength.
Prioritising our health in general (including our mental health) is vital to our wellbeing, even if it can be difficult when we all live such busy lives.
Managing our mental health
Day to-day, I work closely with children, young people and families to identify ways to improve and maintain our mental health. The first – and most important step – is identifying what we need, and how we can manage the various factors that might impact our mental health.
While a therapist or counsellor can help you work through your feelings and develop coping strategies, there are lots of practices that you can incorporate into your day-to-day routine to support your mental health:
- Regular exercise: this can be as gentle or as active as you like
- Meditation or mindfulness: there are a range of free apps that can support you in this practice
- Journaling: whether it is just writing down your thoughts as they occur to you, or using journaling prompts to dig into deeper questions
- Connecting with family, friends and loved ones: this can support your overall wellbeing, but they may also be able to share their mental health care tips
- Including daily self-care in your routine: whatever it is, big or small, this should be something that allows you to focus on yourself and your needs.
Good mental health takes time to achieve, as does mental health recovery. I hope that today can give us all the opportunity to talk more openly about mental health and give us the courage to look after ourselves – and each other – throughout the year.