ABOUT OUR MENTAL HEALTH
Our mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Additionally, it affects how we deal with stress, relate to others, and make decisions. From childhood and all the way into adulthood, maintaining our mental health should be a priority just like taking care of our physical health. The effects of mental health issues could affect our thinking, mood, and behaviors as well as the way we interact with others in our environment (as well as online interactions). Many factors can contribute to a poor mental health state, these may include biological factors such as genes, brain chemistry, life experiences such as trauma or an abusive past, socioeconomic factors, availability of support systems, and environmental factors.
WHY IS MENTAL HEALTH IMPORTANT?
The importance of mental health is greater than ever before as it affects every aspect of our lives in this busy world that we navigate. In order to stabilize constructive behaviors, emotions, and thoughts, one must maintain good mental health and address any mental health concerns that may already exist. Taking care of our mental health can enhance the overall quality of life like productivity, memory retention, and helps to improve our self-perception and relationships. Managing our mental health is as important as our physical health, the mind and body have a deep connection that syncs. From experience it works both ways, when you take care of your body it helps to elevate your mind + mood, taking care of your mental health means better physical health. When I'm physically unwell due to various reasons such as being sick with a cold or my body is run down from overworking, whatever it may be... my mental health goes down with it. For our mental health to be at its best, we must find a balance to take care of both our mental and physical health. The mindsets of self-reliance and mindfulness along with healthy daily habits contribute to greater mental health. Having positive mental health allows us to reach our full potential, better cope with stressors, work productively, and make meaningful contributions to our communities.
Chronic stress is one of the common causes contributing to a poor mental health state, also labeled as 'Fight or Flight' responses in which people who have experienced trauma(s) like PTSD and C-PTSD are 'stuck' in this mode of operation most of the time (first-hand experience with this). Stress helps people survive in a dangerous situation or get through a crisis. But now many people live in constant fight or flight mode because of modern-day stressors such as financial worries, friction in the workplace, food security, difficult relationships, and *insert familiar stressor*. Stress can manifest as physical problems including body aches, high blood pressure, overeating, insomnia, headaches, and autoimmune disorders. It can also lead to more serious mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. For further reading... 'When the body says no: The cost of hidden stress', a book by physician Dr. Gabor Maté focuses on the topic of the effects of chronic stress
Here are some examples of your mental health not being at its best and things that may need to be addressed:
You have trouble sleeping.
You are easily agitated.
You have low or zero energy
You often feel overwhelmed.
You find yourself “emotionally eating” — eating unhealthy foods or eating when you are not hungry in response to difficult feelings.
You forget to take care of yourself.
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can't get out of your head.
- You feel helpless or hopeless
You often have tension headaches.
You suffer from anxiety, burnout, or depression.
You feel unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
You don’t want to be around people.
You have thoughts of self-harming
You have trouble maintaining a healthy weight.
You have feelings of isolation
You drink, smoke, and/or do drugs to deal with stress even if you know it isn’t good for you.
Experiencing severe mood swings
You feel numb or like nothing matters at times
Image from Mental Health America
It helps to take notes on how you feel about yourself mentally and physically using the method of self-observation to figure out what and how it causes stress so that we can constructively address them. To find different methods that will work to help your mind and body heal in your way. This is one of the main reasons why this initiative was created, to provide information that is practical and accessible. You will find all of that information on the MNSTR Method for Mental Health Management (MMMHM) page later. Furthermore, I wanted to contribute to the mental health conversation within the skateboarding community, so that the stigma surrounding mental health can be broken down. Our mental health states are as diverse as our heritage and experiences. Read on to see how we can help with this...
BREAKING THE MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA STARTS WITH YOU + ME
Talking about our mental health has been considered a topic that's taboo for quite some time, a societal perspective that having a mental health condition or needing help with their mental health is not considered 'normal' and may result in the use of stigmatizing labels such as "crazy" or "unstable"(also known as sanism). It is a form of oppression that leads to negative stereotyping that individuals with a mental health condition(s) are not fit to be at school/workplace/etc. Treated with contempt by part of the population harboring outdated concepts of mental health matters has prevented those in need of support from seeking help and/or solutions, whether the condition(s) derives from trauma (PTSD/C-PTSD), depression, schizophrenia, BPD, anxiety, or *insert condition*... whatever it may be, some people may feel helpless while navigating this 'societal shame' for experiencing their mental health condition(s). It seems that bettering our mental health is something that shouldn't be openly discussed whenever people try to help themselves through therapy or self-help. I believe that we have the power to break the stigma around mental health by taking some mindful steps to make some changes.
The first step we can take when it comes to our mental health is acknowledging it (whether it's for you or someone else). Accepting that you are not feeling okay is indeed okay. Addressing that different mental health conditions exist and also without judgment helps to break the stigma that surrounds the topic of mental health. Also, the importance of considering neurodiversity is now more critical than ever for a greater understanding of yourself and/or others. Learning more about a person in this way leads to more understanding and empathy towards them and their mental health condition(s). Talking about mental health topics with your peers in different settings which include the various mental health states that exist in our environment (and outside of it), understanding how societal issue(s) may affect one's mental health or how it affects a group of people, changing the language when addressing mental health (for example, I use the term a person with a mental health condition instead of mental illness or mentally ill person, just language that I personally refuse to use), and being transparent with our own mental health journey. The last point is something that I've been working on recently by addressing + accepting my experiences and talking about them openly (as it is a part of me) through my project, with peers, and postings on social media. In sharing my mental health journey, I hope to be able to make another person more comfortable to talk about their mental health and also to help with their self-belief in helping themselves with whatever they're going through first before seeking external help.
"Sharing our experiences with mental health, our successes, our failures, our vulnerability, can do a lot more than you may think... your experience matters. It can completely change the way topics surrounding mental health and conditions are approached." (M. Hoover 2021). When it comes to improving how we speak about mental health and making space for people to feel validated and supported, every conversation matters. Taking care of our mental health is part of living a healthy life, regardless of the stigma. The stigma that surrounds mental health must and will be broken, and that starts with you + me. That's my thoughts on the importance of mental health. If you have any thoughts or questions about this page, please don't hesitate to CONTACT me with the subject line: Mental Health. See the next page...the mindset of SELF-RELIANCE.
Mental Health Website, 2022, <https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health>
Mental Health Commission Canada. <https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/wp-content/uploads/drupal/2020-08/language_matters_cheat_sheet_eng.pdf>
Alliant International University website, June 19, 2022, < https://www.alliant.edu/blog/how-environmental-factors-impact-mental-health>
Bisma Anwar, Talkspace website, Nov 24, 2021, <https://www.talkspace.com/blog/why-is-mental-health-important>