The Mental Health Continuum and how to make sure you're ready..
When I see instagram pictures being shared around the internet that say things like '1 in 4 people will experience mental health in their lifetime' I shudder at the internet's way at promoting terrible mis-information. Not only is 'mental health' like our 'physical health' and not a term for mental unwellness, but our mental health is an oscillating continuum between not coping and optimum coping and everything in between. In other words, there are peaks and dips in our mental health and this affects everyone. No one can escape 'mental health' because it is the health of our emotions and our coping mechanisms - things we reply on every day in everything we do.
So why do we still promote this model of mental unwellness as being only experienced by the select disadvantaged few and why should we categorise ourselves into 'well' and 'ill'. We all have days when we cope, and all have days when we don't.
I'd like to think in 2021 and after such a huge global pandemic, that we have realised that everybody needs help sharing and regulating our emotions, whether that's through social interactions (seeing family and friends), connecting with nature or experiencing natural rhythmic cycles through creative arts, being able to be creative at home and at school and not put too much pressure on ourselves to conform, or to achieve. Being in control of our mental health means having access to rich and varied life experiences for us to navigate, which in turn help us to keep happy and prepare us to take on the tougher stuff in life.
I don't think I'm too far away from the truth when I hypothesise that most doctors are seeing our physical health decline because of a decline in our mental health during the pandemic. The link between the two is very clear.
If mental health is a continuum, then we all oscillate between the two ends of this scale below:
Delphis Learning. 2021. The Mental Health Continuum is a Better Model for Mental Health | Delphis Learning. [online] Available at: <https://delphis.org.uk/mental-health/continuum-mental-health/>
How do we make sure that we, our loved ones and those we know don't end up in crisis?
Make a mental health plan. Who do we call when there's a problem? What can we do if we're worried? How can we help? Make sure everyone in the family or workplace can access it and it's clear and simple. Include you GP's number and a safeguarding number you can call if you're worried about the safety of a child.
Be able to offer a safe, quiet space for listening. Whether that's at home, at school or in the work place.
Access to services, like creative arts therapies. This is very important for children and young people who may not be able to use words to describe their feelings or emotions.
And if you feel as though you're not coping.. talk to someone. Find someone who you trust and ask them to help you. There are so many ways to access mental health services nowadays including phone calls and online or text messaging.
There is always some one who will listen, so before reaching for something that will mask your feelings, reach out.
Mental Health Continnum Resources and Links:
Delphis: Webinars, workshops and online courses to improve employee health and wellbeing
New Zealand Defence Force - Health