May 7-13, 2018 marks the 67th Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Mental Health Week. The goal in previous years was designed to bring more awareness around mental illness and to help end the stigma, discrimination and shame associated with it. This year, CMHA Mental Health Week, along with their #GetLoud Campaign, is going a step further by promoting mental health for what it really is and how we are all affected by it.
As many as 1 in 5 (20%) Canadians will experience a mental health issue every year, but every single person experiences mental health!
Mental health is a state of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how you think, feel, and act and it helps determine the choices you make and how you relate to others. It also shapes your self-esteem and the relationship you have with yourself. Much like physical health, you can have good mental health or you can struggle and experience difficulty with your mental health. You can also waiver back and forth with it at any point in time. You do not need to have a mental illness to have poor mental health, and it is equally important to know that people who have a mental illness can also experience good mental health. Ultimately, good mental health is key to better health overall.
Although, there are many factors that can determine the state of your mental health the CMHA lists 6 aspects that you can start examining to help determine where you feel your mental health is currently at: sense of self (ie. I consider myself to be a good person), purpose (ie. I feel I have a purpose and there is meaning in my life), contribution (ie. I feel like the things I do matter and I make a difference), hope (ie. I enjoy life and am optimistic about my future), resilience (ie. Even when things get tough, I am able to deal fairly well by taking action where I can) and belonging (ie. I feel I have good relationships and that I am connected to and supported by others). All of the examples listed can be great indicators for good mental health. If you found that any of these aspects are absent from your life or you have difficulty figuring out how they apply to you, you might be struggling with your mental health. You may want to re-evaluate certain areas in your life and/or connect with your supports or other professionals to address those issues and begin working on improving your mental health. Some steps you can even take today to enhance your mental health might include reaching out and connecting with friends/family, practicing mindfulness, journaling your gratitude, pursuing an interest or learning something new and making time for self-care activities that allow you to reflect on your values and the things that matter most to you.
Seeing how mental health plays such a fundamental role in helping you achieve a better overall well-being, what steps can you try today to help strengthen your mental health so you can continue to overcome challenges and be successful in the goals you set for yourself?