Today, 10th October, is World Mental Health day. At this time of year, we are reminded that mental health is not a one-time fix but a life long journey, so what can you do to improve your own mental health and that of your loved ones?
Put your own gas mask on first
Whenever you travel in an aeroplane, the crew will instruct you to put your own oxygen mask on first. While this might sound selfish at first, it is because hypoxia can make you need more help than you can give.
The same is true in mental health; the best way for you to help other people is to look after your self first. In Britain, we have a strong “stiff upper lip” culture that encourages us to “keep calm and carry on” – both of which can make it harder to seek help. Equally, creeping normality can make it difficult to spot small changes in our lives that might actually be a problem. This can lead us to thinking that we are fine when we might actually need mental health help. You go for a regular checkup a the dentist, so why not for your mental health?
So what can one do?
NHS Self Help Online
Be very careful about the online sources of mental health assistance that you select, as many can cause more harm than good. Thankfully, the UK has a fantastic NHS that provides some fantastic bona fide resources to help you with your first steps.
Speak to friends & family
While they are usually not qualified mental health professionals, friends and family can often help you gain some objectivity. It is often difficult to identify a situation while you are in it, so some caring outside observations can help.
Shameless self promotion: Having a supportive social network around you is actually one of the key factors in lifelong mental health, so being part of Geek.Zone is fantastic!
Speak to Professionals
Medical professionals can also help you to identify whether you need any help and point you in the right direction. These can include,
- Your GP
- NHS IAPT
Check in with friends
Once you have put your own metaphorical gas mask on, why not help someone else put theirs on? It’s fine not to have professional mental health qualifications, however just checking in with your friend can mean the world of difference. Don’t force your friend to discuss anything they don’t want to, however if they want to discuss matters further, your objectivity might help point your friend in the right direction.