May is Mental Health month. Mental health is a key factor in our day-to-day life. We must know how to take care of it.
Saathi promotes sustainable living, body positivity and well being. We feel mental health is important for overall growth and well being of a person and the society.
In honor of Mental Health month, we are doing a 3 part series on mental health. In Part 1, we will be talking about how important mental health is, what are the various problems we face and how we can overcome them.
We often hear people saying- "Oh, she's just being a dramatic attention seeker" , "This is just a phase" , "This is a trend in your generation, we did not have anything like depression" and many other remarks about mental health. There is a stigma around talking about depression, mental health and therapy. It's 2021 and still many haven’t come to terms with the fact that mental health is as important as our physical health. Just like we go to a doctor when we feel ill, we may need therapy when we feel depressed or anxious.
Let us make ourselves aware of mental health first.
What is mental health?
Mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, feel, and behave. Mental health can affect daily living, relationships, and physical health.
Why is it important?
Looking after mental health can preserve a person’s ability to enjoy life. Doing this involves reaching a balance between life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.
Conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety can affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine.
The WHO stresses that mental health is “more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.” Peak mental health is about not only avoiding active conditions but also looking after ongoing wellness and happiness.
What affects mental health?
Everyone has some risk of developing a mental health disorder, no matter their age, sex, income, or ethnicity. Social and financial circumstances, biological factors, and lifestyle choices can all shape a person’s mental health.
The following factors may contribute to mental health disruptions:
- Continuous social and economic pressure
Having limited financial means or belonging to a marginalized or persecuted ethnic group can increase the risk of mental health disorders. Having peer pressure or constant pressure to succeed can also contribute to anxiety and depression.
- Biological factors
The NIMH suggests that genetic family history can increase the likelihood of mental health conditions, as certain genes and gene variants put a person at higher risk.
However, many other factors contribute to the development of these disorders. Having a gene with links to a mental health disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia, does not guarantee that a condition will develop. Likewise, people without related genes or a family history of mental illness can still have mental health issues.
What are the common mental health disorders?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
GAD is a constant worry that disrupts everyday life. People might also experience physical symptoms- restlessness, fatigue, tense muscles and interrupted sleep.
People with panic disorder experience regular panic attacks, which involve sudden, overwhelming terror or a sense of imminent disaster and death.
There are different types of phobias- simple phobias like fear of an animal or object, social phobia like fear of interacting with people and many other types. Phobias are deeply personal, and doctors do not know every type. There could be thousands of phobias, and what might seem unusual to one person may be a severe problem that dominates daily life for another.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD):
People with OCD have obsessions and compulsions. In other words, they experience constant, stressful thoughts and a powerful urge to perform repetitive acts, such as hand washing.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):
PTSD can occur after a person experiences or witnesses a deeply stressful or traumatic event. During this type of event, the person thinks that their life or other people’s lives are in danger. They may feel afraid or that they have no control over what is happening.
People may also refer to mood disorders as affective disorders or depressive disorders. People with these conditions have significant changes in mood, generally involving either mania, which is a period of high energy and elation, or depression. If this is not taken care of in time, it can lead to major depression and even bipolar disorder where people can experience unusual changes in their mood, energy levels, levels of activity, and ability to continue with daily life.
What are signs of depression?
There is no physical test or scan that reliably indicates whether a person has developed a mental illness. However, people should look out for the following as possible signs of a mental health disorder:
- withdrawing from friends, family, and colleagues
- avoiding activities that they would normally enjoy
- sleeping too much or too little
- eating too much or too little
- feeling hopeless
- having consistently low energy
- using mood-altering substances, including alcohol and nicotine, more frequently
- displaying negative emotions
- being confused
- being unable to complete daily tasks, such as getting to work or cooking a meal
- having persistent thoughts or memories that reappear regularly
- thinking of causing physical harm to themselves or others
- hearing voices
- experiencing delusions
What is the solution or treatment for mental health disorders?
Treatment for mental health is highly individual, and what works for one person may not work for another. The individual needs to work closely with a doctor or a therapist who can help them identify their needs and provide them with suitable treatment.
Treatments may include-
Talking to a therapist:
Talking to an expert will always help. Sometimes, we can't share our feelings with our family members. In those situations, taking help from a professional might be a better option.
A person coping with mental health difficulties will usually need to make changes to their lifestyle to facilitate wellness. Such changes might include reducing alcohol intake, sleeping more, doing some form of exercise and eating a balanced, nutritious diet. People may need to take time away from work or resolve issues with personal relationships that may be causing damage to their mental health. People with conditions such as anxiety or depressive disorder may benefit from relaxation techniques, which include deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness.
Yoga and meditation:
Doing yoga or meditation helps in having control over your emotions, anger and restlessness. It even helps in the early stage of depression. Having control over emotions is necessary for everyone. Doing meditation regularly can have great benefits.
In Part 2 of the series, we will talk about Autism and ADHD and how having some disability like autism affects mental health because of social stigma and bullying that people with autism face.
Let us know in the comments about your views on mental health and what you think can help a person improve his/her mental health.
Saathi is an award winning social venture which has a patented technology to convert agri-waste into absorbent materials. Our sanitary pads are 100% biodegradable and compostable made from banana and bamboo fibers, which convert into compost in 6 months of its disposal. Saathi pads are good for the body🩸, community 🌎 and environment 🌱. We are on a mission to revolutionize the hygiene industry as a consumer products company that makes products in a sustainable and responsible way.
We are recognized by the UNESCO Green Citizens project, St. Andrews, Solar Impulse Foundation and Global Cleantech Innovation Program among others for our innovative, social impact and sustainable work. We are working towards United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 12, 13, 3, 9, 5, 6, 8, and 14.
Check out a short video of our story here and follow us at @saathipads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Youtube to learn about more facts and myth busters about sustainability, women’s health, and more!