What is Mental Health?

What is mental health?

It seems ridiculous really, that I haven't written this blog before today, but I realised, that I take more of an educating role around mental health; that I've been assuming everyone's singing from the same sheet as me.

I have a couple of Facebook groups on the go at the moment, and am keen to keep developing mental health awareness through these; I sat down to write a blog called 'How to tell a Child is Experiencing Mental Health' and decided I needed to do this one first (in case you're wondering, I have a Facebook group for parents and one for teachers; feel free to come and join them!)

We all have mental health.

I think this is the biggest misconception, it seems people are mostly talking about mental health when there's a problem, but this means we miss all that we can do to manage, take care of and maintain our mental health. At different times, we either have good/healthy mental health or mental ill health.

You don't need a diagnosis to be experiencing mental ill health.

I think this is probably a by-product of thinking mental health is only mental ill health. Our mental health can fluctuate day to day, whenever you are experiencing a dip in your emotions and are struggling with your thoughts, that is a shift in your mental health. It doesn't need to be a significant shift, for a long period of time or require a GP's assistance.

Mental health isn't all in your head.

When I work with clients, we work holistically with their

  • thoughts
  • feelings
  • behaviours and
  • physiology

All of these influence each other but an individual may not be aware of them all and their connection to each other. If we take anxiety, for example, it is characterised by thoughts (i.e. critical thinking), feelings (i.e. panic), behaviour (i.e. avoidance) and physiology (i.e. increased heart rate). Likewise, healthy mental health like happiness, love and excitement all have their own characteristics across the board.

We need to talk about it.

Talking about it and not hiding it away means we develop a language and frame of reference which is essential when needing to access support. If we know what things are in language and have evidence of others' mental health, we are more likely to have integrated the belief that it's OK and it's normal; reducing the barriers and stigmas we see at the moment.

Behaviour is a good indicator.

Where a language and frame of reference isn't available for us to understand our experiences, we may act differently as a way to express and get a release; this is particularly the case of children and young people. Small changes in a child's behaviour can indicate an internal struggle, and this provides a great opportunity to start the language and frame of reference development.

You don't need to be an expert.

Perhaps because mental health has been associated with extreme experiences such as disorders, and because mental health was managed so horrifically in history, I think people are afraid it. Hopefully knowing that it can be a small shift in how a person is being, you'll be more confident and know; you're dealing with mental health every day. You don't need to be an expert to be exactly what an adult or child needs you to be.