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Mental health matters—and how you can improve it

There is a reason why airlines prompt us to pull-on our own oxygen mask before helping others: At a time of stress or demand, when we are needed to serve or support others (family, friends, colleagues, patients, customers) and energy flow will be one way, we had better be in robust physical and mental health.

Now I have had broken bones and torn muscles, but these arose from adventurous folly. I have been fortunate however to have avoided, thus far, suffering from poor mental health.

I have, though, seen the consequences of this invisible, ravaging disease. 

As a late teenager I worked as an auxiliary nurse on a secure psychiatric ward, giving blessed thanks at the end of each shift for not having to carry the burden of depression, a malaise once described to me as, “having a rucksack permanently attached to your back, knowing that another brick will be deposited in it tomorrow.”

Since then, young family members have left us, and in the past month, I know of three family practitioners in the UK who have taken their own lives. 

But there is hope.

I volunteer some of my skills to not-for-profit organisations, one of which provides mental health services.

Like most professional care-givers, they are chronically under-resourced, and chronically sapped by the nature of their work. No matter how care, affection and motivation you have to give, demand will always exceed supply. If you yourself are starved of oxygen, there are only so many emergency masks you can put on others.

But as I said, there is hope.

I do know of a number of colleagues and clients who wish they had better mental health. Here are 6 “gets” given to me by a health practitioner who had previously suffered from depression

Get help

There is no stigma associated with poor mental health. There are caring professionals who can help, supported by increasingly effective therapeutic methods

Get friends

We are social animals who need to interact through direct contact. Socialising via the internet or with people who are impacting your personal review does not count! We each cannot solve every problem, and mutual supportive dependency on friends gives us perspective and affirmation.

Get sleep

Unplug the electronics by 9:00pm (was one piece of advice), but the salient point is—get as much sleep as possible, and this aided by breaking tech-addiction

Get out

Nearly every leading mental health professional I know spends time outdoors. Walking, cycling, anythinging…it doesn’t matter. Being outside and interacting with your environment is key

Get exercise

If you can combine this with ‘Get out’ you’ve a high-return combo.

Get feedback

Our self-belief is founded on our knowledge that our problem-solving capability is valued by those whom we respect.

If you know of a friend or colleague in need, be supportive and help them out.

“It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him.”
— Abraham Lincoln
Simon LuntComment