When it comes to health and well-being, the first thing that come to mind is physical health, where we emphasize the importance of lifestyle, healthy food, taking exercise, hitting the gym, etc. What is generally ignored, paid less attention to or unsystematically dealt with is mental health. From childhood we are taught to feed ourselves well. As we reach adulthood we become conscious of the fact that a healthy lifestyle includes daily work outs and exercise. But we seldom find our elders telling us that mental health is a larger priority as it is the mind that drives the body and not vice versa.
Mental health includes our psychological, social, and emotional well-being. It determines how we think, feel, and act in our daily lives. Our ability to handle emotions, stress, how you socialize with others, and making decisions are greatly determined by your mental state. Hence our mental health is just as important to be built and trained to survive as our physical health is.
Our mental health directly affects our physical state due to the strong connection between our body and mind. According to studies, mental health problems lead to deterioration in physical health, affects productivity and decision making. Since it happens over time, we usually realize late in the process, ignore to address the real causes (relating to mental health) and try to superficially treat the symptoms (physical body) only. It’s the people around who often face the most impact from mental health issues of a person. Abuse, neglect, biases, and a variety of emotional and complex behavioral problems could sprout if a person is mentally not well which also affects one’s immediate family and colleagues at workplace.
Extreme mental health problems, constant depression, worry, or panic can bring serious consequences and negatively influence aspects of one’s life. War and violence destroy communities and countries all over the world, and have a devastating impact on the mental health of millions of people. In places affected by conflicts, one in five people live with some form of mental health condition. When traumas are invisible, they can be easily overlooked or deprioritized, yet carry a devastating impact on the mental health and in some cases the effects are even life-threatening. Traditional social reactions to any mental problems add to the problem itself, which leads to mental health staying neglected and stigmatized and overlooked, the consequences of which can severely impact a person's safety, dignity, and health and further undermine the ability of communities and states to appropriately address these challenges.
Mental health support must be included at the individual, family, and community level, right from the beginning as part of an overall development plan to have mentally healthy individuals. Periodic interventions and support programs, educating about coping mechanisms, and access to counselors and quality mental health professionals should be promoted as a regular dining table talk rather than exercising secrecy and silence.
At times when we visit our healthcare professionals, along with advice on what to eat and which medicines to take, they often prescribe staying happy as part of the prescription. There is no definite formulae or medicine to stay happy. Staying happy stipulates that we value ourselves, give due regard to any behavioral issues in our environment and talk about them instead of feeling shy, angered or helpless, before they turn into physical health issues and psychological damage.
Make your mental health a priority today!