Every year 10th October is celebrated as World Mental Health Day. This day was started by the world Federation for mental health in 1992 with an aim to spread awareness regarding prevention of mental health issues and promotion of positive mental health. They advocated for de-stigmatisation of mental illnesses and ensuring accessibility of quality mental health care for all. They highlighted the need to treat mental health at par with physical health. Every year World Mental Health day has different theme. The theme of World Mental Health Day this year is “Ensuring Mental health and Wellbeing for all becomes a Global priority”. The aim is to sensitize general public about prioritising their own mental health and of others around them. This day is a prompt for us to reignite our efforts to protect and improve our mental health. It aims to sensitize public and all stakeholders that absence of mental illness cannot be equated with mental health.
Every effort needs to be directed towards salutogenic approach; which is the promotion of mental health that includes helping people to develop coping strategies, problem solving and asset building (self esteem, resilience, confidence, competence, grit, personal growth, emotional intelligence, learned resourcefulness, meaning in life and flourishing). The Charity mind has outlined 5 steps we can take today to begin making positive changes or creating healthy habits for promoting mental health:
Connect with other people
Spend time with friends, family and teachers. Improve your personal relationships and social connectivity but nevertheless avoid toxic people. We cannot change people but can change people around us. Connect only with those who ignite the spark of positivity and growth in us. Connecting with people shouldn’t be at the cost of losing self respect. Above all don’t strive to make everyone happy as we are the humans not circus clowns. Prize others but prioritize yourself. Do not let others determine your worth and decide for you.
Be physically active
Be as engaging as possible. Go for walk, do physical exercise, go for shopping and trips. Do gardening; take part in sports and games. These little activities mark huge difference in our physical and mental health.
Live in the present and make best out of it. Savour the cup in your hand. Pay attention to the present rather than ruminating about past or worrying about future.
Learn new skills
We are never too old for learning. Always try to learn new skills. Spending time in productive pursuits is far better than scrolling through social media and looking at profiles of others. Learning new skills bring freshness, joy and growth in life. As goes the saying, always be in the process of becoming. Everyday learn something new. Seek for the ways to make life exciting.
Give to others
We have so much to give and the beauty of giving is that we receive more than we give. Giving is not limited to helping and feeding needy. It means to give someone a shoulder to cry on; a chest to lie on, an ear to hear them; Smile and greet people. There are many people willing to give money to others but give something more important to them that is; Give love, care, respect, hope, time, trust, loyality, knowledge and confidence to others.
“Parents must resist the impulse to instruct kids on how to handle situations and be involved in all decision-making processes. They must hand these over to their children and acknowledge that it is the child’s own responsibility to fight their battles” said Anju Soni, principal, Shiv Nadar School, Noida, in her quote on World Mental Health Day.“ Do not allow yourself to be governed by the opinions of others. Emerge from your own experience of good, bad, and ugly. If in this process, you need a space for reflection, do not shy away from taking it. This Mental Health Day, breathe the air you wish for, create the life you dreamt for.” said Astha Nagpal, Consultant Counsellor, Kirori Mal College, Delhi University, and Founder, Daffodils Therapy Studio, Delhi, in her quote on World Mental Health Day.
Let’s work collectively to build a world in which mental health is valued, promoted and protected; where everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy mental health and to exercise their human rights; and where everyone can access the mental health care they need. It is everyone’s business not only of policy makers, psychiatrists or counsellors. We as parents, teachers, family members, and friends and as productive members of society have the responsibility to be sensible with our words and actions. We need to ask ourselves at every move whether I am leading someone towards mental health or mental illness. One body shaming comment is enough to trigger feeling of worthlessness and suicidal ideation among a person and one positive statement is enough to make someone’s day special. One negative personal attack by employer is enough to force a person to seek resignation. Harsh and demeaning words by parents and spouse are enough to ruin someone. Let’s prioritize our mental health and those of our loved ones. Let’s not shun away from seeking mental health help and be open about the emotional turmoil and psychological issues we face.
(Author is a PhD scholar, Dept of psychology, University of Kashmir. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)