10 reasons why mental health is importantMental health · Feb 8, 2021
Mental health is so much more than just the absence of mental illness. It is a combination of our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing, and it affects every aspect of our lives — how we think, how we feel and how we act. It influences how we relate to other people, how we deal with the stresses in our lives and whether we make healthy or unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Here are 10 reasons why we should pay attention to our mental health:
Poor mental health makes us more vulnerable to certain physical health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.1
Nurturing our mental health can also help prevent the development of mental illnesses.2
Good mental health helps us have a more positive outlook and enjoy our lives more.2
When our mental health is good, we are better able to cope with the difficult times in our lives.2
We are more creative when our mental health is good, and that makes us more open to trying new things.2
Good mental health promotes better relationships with the people in our lives.3
Good mental health enables us to work more productively and reach our full potential.3
Good mental health enables us to make meaningful contributions to our family, to our community and to society.3
Having good mental health helps us think more clearly.4
Our moods are improved and our self-esteem enhanced when our mental health is good.4
Stress and mental health
Mental health changes over time, depending on a number of factors.1 One of the factors that can affect mental health is stress. Everyone experiences stress at times, but when the demands of life go beyond our ability to cope with them, our mental health can suffer.1
Stress causes physical changes in the body. It causes muscles to tense and heart rate and breathing rate to increase.5 In the short term, stress can have positive effects, such as helping us be ready to face a challenge. Then, once the challenge has passed, the body returns to normal.5 However, when the stress becomes chronic, the body loses the ability to return to normal, and attention, memory and the way we deal with our emotions can be negatively affected.5 Prolonged stress can lead to problems such as depression, anxiety and burnout.6
Fortunately, there are techniques you can employ to help manage your stress and foster good mental health.
Good mental health techniques
Pay attention to how you’re feeling and what your body is telling you.7 Are you feeling very stressed most of the time? Are you having trouble sleeping? Do you feel angry or depressed? Do you often feel that you don’t have enough energy? These could be signals of a mental health issue. Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend, family member or professional counsellor.
Be physically active.7 Exercising regularly can help you feel better and sleep better, and it can enhance your ability to concentrate.
Engage in a relaxing activity.7 This could be something such as meditation, yoga or breathing exercises, or it could be listening to soothing music or engaging in a hobby you enjoy.
Eat a healthy diet to ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to function properly.8
If you drink alcohol, drink sensibly.8 Turning to alcohol to deal with a difficult situation will only provide temporary relief, and when it wears off, you may even feel worse. Alcohol is never a good way to try to deal with problems — and the same is true for other recreational drugs as well.
Stay in touch with other people.8 Don’t try to go it alone. Family and friends can support you and help you deal with life’s problems and stresses.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.8 This is a sign of strength, not weakness. Recognizing that you can’t conquer every problem and having the courage to seek assistance demonstrates maturity and self-confidence. There are programs available to help those with the courage to ask for help.
1. Learn About Mental Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018. Available online at https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm#:~:text=Mental%20health%20includes%20our%20emotional,others%2C%20and%20make%20healthy%20choices.&text=Mental%20health%20is%20important%20at,childhood%20and%20adolescence%20through%20adulthood
2. Benefits of Good Mental Health. Canadian Mental Health Association. Available online at https://toronto.cmha.ca/documents/benefits-of-good-mental-health/
3. Mental Health. Medline Plus. Available online at https://medlineplus.gov/mentalhealth.html
4. Miller K. 2020. The Benefits of Mental Health According to Science. Positive Psychology. Available online at https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-mental-health/
5. Stress and Our Mental Health—What Is the Impact & How Dan We Tackle It? MQ Mental Health Research. Available online at https://www.mqmentalhealth.org/stress-and-mental-health/
6. Racine V. 2020. The Impact of Stress on Your Mental Health. Canadian Red Cross. Available online at https://www.redcross.ca/blog/2020/10/the-impact-of-stress-on-your-mental-health
7. 5 Things You Should Know About Stress National Institute of Mental Health. Available online at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/19-mh-8109-5-things-stress_142898.pdf
8. How to Look After Your Mental Health. Mental Health Foundation Available online at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/How%20to...mental%20health.pdf