Today is World Mental Health Day, one of the important days that is recognized across the world to remind individuals to take care of their mental health. This year, the theme for the celebration is “Mental health is a universal human right.” While a lot of people presume that, mental health is focused more on persons with mental issues and roaming on the streets, experts have warned that there is more to mental health than that and we are all at risk of mental health illness, thus, we have to take our mental health issues seriously.
In recent years, a lot of people are beginning to be more conscious about their mental health and engage in
activities that are more likely to help them reduce stress. Some of these activities include going hiking, going on picnics, trying out new restaurants, exploring nature, practicing yoga, working out, attending seminars, karaoke, and so on. People are also beginning to walk away from actions and individuals who are a threat to their mental health, that is why we see a lot of divorce cases on the rise. Gone are the days when people used to stay in relationships (including friendships and family relations) even when it was obvious that they were going through all kinds of abuse. As a lot of campaigns to create awareness have been launched and being carried out, people are beginning to take this aspect of their health more seriously.
This annual observance reminds us to prioritize our mental well-being, challenge stigmas, and foster a world where everyone can thrive mentally and emotionally. The day also provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations, and communities to come together in support of mental health and wellness, thereby fostering community unity and oneness. This day encourages education and open conversations about mental health, helping people better understand the importance of seeking help when needed. People also get to know where to seek help for their mental health issues. As it stands now, a lot of people in Ghana do not know where to seek help for their mental health issues. To you reading this, do you know where to go for your mental health needs if the need arises? If you do not know, most hospitals have people who are trained to attend to our mental health issues, even if the hospital does not offer this service, they can direct you to where you can get assistance.
Mental health is an important aspect of our overall well-being and health. It encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social health and affects how we think, feel, and act. It also includes our ability to cope with the challenges we face in life. Mental health is not static; it fluctuates throughout our lives, influenced by various
factors like life experiences, genetics, and environmental conditions. Thus, mental health is dynamic and can vary from day to day or throughout one’s life. That is why we may be okay today and tomorrow, the story is different. Just as physical health requires attention and care, so does mental health. It is essential to prioritize and nurture mental well-being, seek support when facing difficulties, and promote a stigma-free environment where individuals feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns and seeking help when necessary. Good mental health is vital for overall well-being and quality of life.
Good mental health is characterized by a state of well-being in which a person can effectively manage stress, form positive relationships, work productively, make sound decisions, and generally enjoy life. Our ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions effectively also forms part of good mental health which involves experiencing a range of emotions, from happiness and contentment to sadness and anger, in a healthy and balanced way. Good mental health also means that we are able to think clearly, make rational decisions, criticize constructively and pass sound judgement on issues. When we have good mental health, it means we are able to maintain healthy relationships with others and also communicate effectively with them especially about how we feel in a situation.
To ensure that you are enjoying good mental health, here are a few suggested activities you can carry out, if you are not doing them already, to maintain a healthy mental health.
Practice Self-Care: Dedicate the day to self-care activities that make you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. This
includes physical or mental activities such as taking a long bath, workout, a walk in nature, painting, drawing, writing, or crafting or yoga, hanging out with friends and family, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or simply spending time doing things you enjoy. Spend some time reading a book or article that inspires you or offers or something on mental health and general well-being.
Disconnect from Technology: you can also consider taking a break from digital devices and social media. Unplugging for a day can help reduce information overload and promote mental clarity. A lot of people are pressured by some of the things they see on social media and this can unnecessarily stress them and affect their mental health.
Reflection and Journaling: Reflect on your life over a period and what you learn. Look at all the good things in your life that you appreciate, look out for things you don’t appreciate and try to strike a balance between the two. Write these in a journal to express your thoughts and feelings. Journaling can be a therapeutic way to process emotions and gain clarity.
Meditation: try to meditate and practice mindfulness. There are a lot of exercises on meditation and mindfulness that you can practice to help you in your mental health. Meditation is one of the easiest ways to to stay present in the moment, reduce stress, and calm your mind.
Connect with Loved Ones: Spend time with friends or family members who provide support and understanding.
Social connections are vital for mental health.
Volunteer or Help Others: One important activity to spend time doing is to volunteer to help your community. In the Upper West region for example, a lot of people go all out to support Bahass Foundation on this day to bath and feed people who are suffering from mental health. You can also identify such an intervention in your community and support their activities on this day. At these events, use the opportunity to learn more about mental health, mental illnesses, and coping strategies. This can help reduce stigma and increase awareness.
Plan: if you have not been setting goals for yourself, use this opportunity to do so. You can set long term goals, medium term goals and short-term goals. This will help you to stay focused and give you a sense of purpose to keep going, this will in turn impact your life positively.
Seek Professional Support: If you’ve been experiencing mental health challenges or need to talk to someone, consider reaching out to a mental health professional or therapist. Just like we go to see the doctor when we feel unwell, we also need to see a ‘mental health doctor’ anytime we face challenges with our mental health. They will help you to identify causes and sources of stress in your life and also help you create a plan to manage or minimize stressors where possible.
Attend Events to Commemorate the day: Last but not the least, Check if there are local or virtual mental health events, workshops, or seminars happening on Mental Health Day. Participating in such activities can provide you with important information you did not know about the issue.
There are many other activities you can identify and take part in to mark this
day other than what I have suggested here, so feel free to explore. Remember that Mental Health Day is an opportunity to prioritize your well-being, and the activities you choose should align with your personal needs and preferences. Taking time for self-care and mental health is a positive step toward maintaining and improving your emotional and psychological well-being. This important day serves as a vital reminder that mental health is a fundamental part of our lives and deserves attention and care. When we nurture our own mental well-being and advocate for open conversations and support, we are contributing to a world where mental health is a priority for all. Take a moment today to reflect on your own mental health journey and commit to taking steps, big or small, toward a healthier and happier you. CHEERS!!!