Mental Health Week: Celebrating 50 years
This year, Mental Health Week will celebrate 50 years of promoting mental health awareness and helping reduce stigma (WAAMH, 2017). Looking back at this journey, it is indeed plausible to note the growth in awareness and education about the field of mental health and its allied sciences. However, at the same time, it is necessary to identify the existing gaps and work on avenues of further building integrations in order to promote psychological health and well-being amongst one and all.
Besides the journey of mental health as a paradigm, it is also relevant to examine the role of ourselves as an individual entity, often lost in the clutches of this fast-paced world. With the nature of competition, with ever-rising pressures and demands from multiple sources, it is very easy for us to lose sense of our own self, and a sense of our self-identity. In alignment with the theme of this year’s Mental Health Week, let us utilize this occasion to remind ourselves to celebrate our own mental health and well-being.
Connect with nature
The word ‘nature’ could almost sound alien to many of us, especially those of us who are engulfed in the hectic monotony of urban lifestyles. In fact, reconnecting to nature almost sounds like a dream, requiring us to literally take a vacation or a trip, to travel the world in order to find some solace with nature. However, such an option is not always feasible, for a variety of reasons which may or may not be in our control.
Instead, taking out time to reconnect with nature does not necessarily mean physically travelling to another city altogether. It could simply mean refocusing our attention beyond our mundane routines, and taking out time to observe our surroundings. Imbibing mindfulness as a skill could be helpful, as one can simply enjoy the breeze blowing, note the sound of birds chirping, or enjoy the serenity of the sky above us.
In addition, it is possible for us to take our own initiatives in order to touch base with our own sense of nature, not necessarily restricted to scenic beauty! For example, one could adopt a pet, (or spend time with others’ pets), plant a sapling, make your own indoor/outdoor garden, stargaze, go for a nature walk, initiate organic farming at your home (it could even mean simply growing a herb), and the list is endless!
Connect with community
Humans are social beings, and hence it is impossible to completely isolate oneself from the society and people around us. In fact, especially in India, it is the sense of social support and the strength of our social and familial networks which characterizes our society as an integrated and well-knit unit.
Typically, community based services bring to mind options like volunteering for an NGO, or other such non-benefiting organisations to help work towards a cause. However, such initiatives are not the only way to connect with our community. There could be smaller actions or even thoughts which could be our way of contributing to the community and enhancing our sense of social and interpersonal well-being. Remember, community services are not restricted to helping the poor or minority groups. It could also be refleted in your attitude and approach towards yourself as well as each other within your daily living. For instance, simply imparting information, mentoring young minds, serving as a role model, spreading education and awareness, encouraging life skills, etc. are some non-tangible means of contributing towards the community, and further helping you as well as others around you to sustain their mental health and well-being.
Connect with self
Last, but definitely not the least, is connecting to your own self. Though this might actually seem like the most cost-effective and simplest option, it is often the most neglected. For a person to be able to recognize his or her own uniqueness, it is of utmost importance that he or she be self-aware. Therefore, we need to work on understanding our own self, and paying attention to our inner experiences. Often, we tend to rely excessively on others approval about ourselves. However, we need to remember that no one else can know about our life and our experiences better than our own self. Therefore, we are the best judge of ourselves, and therefore we need to be able to trust our own objective evaluation of our own abilities
Pay attention to the way you feel, think and react to the situation, and cherish these experiences. Learn from them, and recognize how each experience adds constructively to your life. Love yourself and enjoy your own existence. You are living a purposeful life, value it, and cherish your own uniqueness, living each moment to the fullest. Be compassionate, and remember there is nothing to stop you!