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Are we doing enough for those struggling with their mental health?


Are we doing enough for those struggling with their mental health?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), approximately 284 million people suffer from anxiety disorders, and 264 million people suffer from depressive disorders worldwide. 


So, what is mental health?


Good mental health is an individual's ability to cope with the daily stress of life and how an individual can navigate to live and work well in their daily life. This is highly integral to one's well-being.


When someone's environment, family, community, and the structure of their life becomes affected, so can their mental health. Many people are resilient and can fight through changes in their daily lives, but some individuals are more vulnerable and at a higher risk of developing mental health conditions.


According to WHO, many mental health conditions can be treated effectively at a relatively low cost, but most health systems are inadequately resourced and treatment gaps are wide across the globe. From my experience, mental healthcare can be poor in quality if you can not find a good quality professional when it is being delivered. Sufferers of mental health, even today, will experience stigma and discrimination from friends, family, and work colleagues and discrimination.


WHO reports that in 2019, 970 million people globally were living with a mental disorder, with anxiety and depression being the most common. Sufferers of mental health will often find difficulties in all aspects of their lives. This includes relationships with their friends and families and usually holding down a job.


Getting a diagnosis and the correct medication is another journey and acceptance that someone has to go on. Especially if one day you are okay and the next you are being told you have something wrong with you. You now have a diagnosis, and you have to take medication, and you are being told you need to see a therapist. There is a journey of acceptance for anyone who goes through this.


Even in 2024, there is still a strong stigma attached to mental health sufferers, that if you have a mental health condition, there is something wrong with you, you are likely incompetent and you can't manage anything for yourself. And if you have anxiety, you are considered as being weak and incapable of coping and should get over it. Society, even now, does not make it easy to talk about mental health or, in some societies, allow you even to go and seek help. So many people are left untreated.


Tips to keep yourself healthy:


  • Talk to someone if you are feeling unwell and not yourself - the sooner you get help, the better.

  • Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help; there is no shame. Together, let's remove the stigma behind mental health.

  • Look after your personal health and try to maintain your routine as much as possible. Take a bath every day, brush your teeth, and try to take a walk.

  • Refer yourself to specialist mental health services; do not seek alternative therapies until you have spoken to a specialist and ensured you have got the correct help you need.

  • Have regular reviews with your doctor and therapist to keep yourself well.

  • Always attempt to have some sort of physical activity in your daily life. Even if you can manage a 15-20-minute walk, it will have a positive effect on your mental health.

  • Keep connected to your support network of friends and family. It is important not to isolate yourself.

  • Getting enough sleep is really important to keep yourself well.

  • Set aside some time for yourself without distractions so you can have some peace and quiet.



How can you support someone with a mental health problem?


  • Sometimes, it is as simple as asking someone if they are okay and having a hard time and asking if you can do anything to help. Waiting for them to come to you may mean they will not get the help and support they need.

  • Be open for them to open up and share as little or as much as they want to; don’t push them. It takes a lot of trust and courage for someone to talk, as you may be the first person they have been able to talk about this.

  • Do not diagnose someone or guess how they feel; you are not a medical expert or counsellor. So, do not offer solutions to their issues or problems. It's essential to try and listen.

  • It's important to encourage self-care and discuss how self-care can help them feel better, such as a good night's sleep, exercise, and a good diet. Also, ask if there is anything you can do to help.

  • Ensure you listen carefully to what is being said to you and repeat it back to ensure they understand you have understood and agree to what is being said to you.

  • Offer to see how you can help them seek professional help and assist them if you can in how they can do that.

  • Try to create a support network of friends and family to help them, but remember that you can only help someone if they are willing to talk to you.

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