Last week (and in fact this whole month), WMH Day or World Mental Health Day (10 October) was observed in various ways all over the globe.
From national campaigns to promote mental wellness to local efforts like lighting up commercial buildings as a show of support and solidarity for the cause.
The state of mental well-being has never garnered as much attention as it has these past two to three years. Much of the “credit” must go to Covid for surfacing the inner struggles people have silently borne for too long.
According to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development,
- “From March 2020 onwards, the prevalence of anxiety and depression increased and in some countries even doubled. Periods when the highest rates of mental distress were reported correlated with periods of intensifying COVID-19 deaths and strict confinement measures;
- Across countries, the mental health of unemployed people and those experiencing financial insecurity was worse than that of the general population – a trend that predates the pandemic, but seems to have accelerated in some cases.”
How to maintain good mental health?
As I muse over WMH every October since I first did a 3-in-1 book review two years ago, I can’t help but wonder how to maintain good mental health in my own life and those of my loved ones.
Although a cursory search online will yield lots of suggestions, I have to say that after a while, they all miss the mark.
Sure you can yoga or pilates. Take up baking or gardening. Or just fly somewhere for a seaside holiday. But the reality is that all these ideas provide only short-term relief. Before long, you’ll be starving for another escape from the mental stress that never really goes away.
And how can it? Things keep popping up, demanding our attention. Be it in school or the workplace or the home.
It gets more so when, like me, you’re in the sandwich generation. Where you have to look after both your kids and your parents. Add to that the usual daily load we affectionately call LIFE, and keeping finances afloat. Any surprise that middle-agers headed to senior citizenship are often the worse hit?!
Not to say the young and the elderly are spared. They too have lots to unsettle their mental state.
But just as the middle bit of a tug-of-war is usually the place that holds the greatest tension, so those like me in the middle can often find the stress there incredibly hard to bear.
And this VUCA (or volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world we now live in — so different from eras of our forebears — doesn’t help either!
When it comes to mental wellness, self care isn’t selfish
So apologies my readers. I’m not posting solutions here because it should be pretty obvious by now that I haven’t any!
Neither am I going to copy paste rose-tinted solutions a gazillion other websites have posted. Though I can tell you those cookie-cutter answers are a dime a dozen and simply won’t cut it. Each of us have problems that are more often than not uniquely ours. So why clamour for ‘non-unique’ solutions?
What I will say is no one should be derided or deprived of help if they ask for it. More importantly, no one should hesitate out of fear, nor be too embarassed or ashamed to ask for help.
As educator and author Parker Palmer said in his book “Let Your Life Speak”: “Self-care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”
So the least we can do is be kind to ourselves when the world isn’t. And be kind to one another though the world often isn’t.
Be present in each moment.
Refuse to be rushed just because the world’s a-knocking impatiently.
Listen attentively with both our ears and our heart.
Surround ourselves with people who truly care for us and have our backs (and us, theirs). Folks who won’t mind our cries for help via call or text at three in the morning. And who would drop everything and come a-running.
And then, having received such love and care, we should pay it back or pay it forward.
Hmmm…on second thought, maybe this post does have a solution or two after all!
Let’s prioritise the mental wellness of ourselves and our loved ones this month.
And every month hereon.
One thought on “October is Mental Health Month — time to prioritise mental health for you and I”
Self-care definitely isn’t selfish, because like a monk said, you can’t light up other people’s candles until you light yours. I don’t know what’s the optimum practice, but mine weigh heavily on sleep, exercise, and diet. That gets me most of the way there. So if all else fails, those three remain priority. Here’s to taking care of our mental health!