Yesterday was World Mental Health day and with everything happening in Barbados, I was more than happy to take a few moments yesterday to enjoy the sound of the pouring rain on my roof. Talk about some therapy!
But what is mental health?
Mental health speaks to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Mental health has an impact on and is affected by how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. It is just as important as physical health and the absence of physical illness, at every stage of life. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as
“a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
Taking care of your mental health is a lot more than listening to the rain, having a delicious meal or knowing you should spend some time doing self-care. It’s seeking help from family, friends and a professional when life feels heavy. It’s about noticing that your fears may be irrational and you’ve unable to control negative thoughts from ruling over your life.
Mental health problems are more common than you think. According to the NHS England, one in 4 adults and one in 10 children experience mental illness during their lifetime. Around 264 million people globally are affected by depression. You are not alone if you are experiencing mental health challenges, and you don’t have to be.
There are several mental health conditions.
Most mental health symptoms have traditionally been divided into groups: ‘neurotic’ or ‘psychotic’ symptoms.
- ‘Neurotic’ conditions are now called “common mental health problems” and covers those symptoms which can be regarded as severe forms of normal emotional experiences such as depression, anxiety or panic.
- ‘Psychotic’ symptoms are less common. These interfere with a person’s perception of reality, and may include hallucinations such as seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling things that no one else can. These may be called “severe mental illnesses” and are typically diagnosed by a doctor.
Irrespective of if the mental health condition is common or severe one, going without treatment or support is detrimental. There is no single look of a person who may be living with a mental health problem, but effective treatment, including medication, counselling, nutrition and exercise, can help you to live a better quality of life.
Improved mental health (well-being) is associated with…
better outcomes for people of all ages and backgrounds such as:
- improved physical health and life expectancy
- better educational achievement
- increased skills
- reduced health risk behaviours such as smoking and alcohol misuse
- reduced risk of repeated mental health problems and suicide
- improved employment rates and productivity
- reduced anti-social behaviour and criminality
- and higher levels of social interaction and participation.
Mental health is everybody’s business.
That’s one of the lessons the panorama has been teaching us. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal access to these services, and there is stigma associated with needing mental health support.
But I’m standing with you today, because it’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to get help too. I definitely have sought support for my own mental health and hope you do too.
Resources & References
Centre for Counselling Addiction Support Alternatives (CASA) (Barbados)
- Hotline open 7 days a week from 5 p.m. – 11 p.m. 1-246-264-7151
- Instagram page
The Psychiatric Hospital (Barbados)
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (USA)
Mental Health Quiz (this was very eye-opening for me)
Mental Health UK
- A-to-Z guide of mental health problems
- Getting help in the UK
- Looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak
- Study – Coronavirus: The divergence of mental health experiences during the pandemic