WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY: For a healthy mind, try the ‘salutogenic’ approach

WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY: For a healthy mind, try the ‘salutogenic’ approach

Every year 10th October is celebrated as World Mental Health Day. This was started by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992 with an aim to spread awareness regarding prevention of mental health issues and promotion of positive mental health. It advocates for de-stigmatisation of mental illnesses and ensuring accessibility of quality mental health care for all. It highlights the need to treat mental health at par with physical health.
Every year the world mental health day has a different theme. The theme this year is “Ensuring Mental Health and Wellbeing for All Becomes a Global Priority”. The aim is to the sensitise the general public about prioritising their own mental health and of others around them. This day is a prompt for us to reignite our efforts to protect and improve our mental health. The public and all stakeholders have to be made aware that mere absence of mental illness cannot be equated with mental health. Every effort needs to be directed towards a ‘salutogenic’ approach, which is the promotion of mental health that includes helping people to develop coping strategies, problem solving and asset building (self esteem, resilience, confidence, competence, grit, personal growth, emotional intelligence, learned resourcefulness, meaning in life and flourishing).
Five steps we can take today to begin making positive changes or creating healthy habits for promoting mental health:
1. Connect with other people
Spend time with friends, family and teachers. Improve your personal relationships and social connectivity but nevertheless avoid toxic people. We cannot change people but can change the people around us. Connect only with those who ignite the spark of positivity and growth in us. Connecting with people shouldn’t be at the cost of deindividuating or losing self respect. Above all, don’t strive to make everyone happy as we are the humans not circus clowns. Prize others but prioritise yourself. Do not let others determine your worth and decide for you.
2. Be physically active
Be as active as possible. Go for a walk, do physical exercise, go for shopping and trips. Do gardening, take part in sports and games. These little activities make a huge difference in our physical and mental health.
3. Practice mindfulness
Live in the present and make the best out of it. Savour the cup in your hand. Pay attention to the present rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
4. Learn new skills
We are never too old for learning. Always try to learn new skills. Spending time in productive pursuits is far better than scrolling through social media and looking at profiles of others. Learning new skills bring freshness, joy and growth in life. As goes the saying, “Always be in the process of becoming”. Everyday learn something new. Seek for ways to make life exciting.

5. Give to others
We have so much to give and the beauty of giving is that we receive more than we give. Giving is not limited to helping and feeding the needy. It means to give someone a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, a smile that greets. There are many people available to whom money can be given, but give something more important to them, which is love, care, respect, hope, time, trust, loyalty, knowledge and confidence.
“Parents must resist the impulse to instruct kids on how to handle situations and be involved in all decision-making processes. They must hand these over to their children and acknowledge that it is the child’s own responsibility to fight their battles” says Anju Soni, principal, Shiv Nadar School, Noida, in her statement on World Mental Health Day.
“Do not allow yourself to be governed by the opinions of others. Emerge from your own experience of good, bad, and ugly. If in this process, you need a space for reflection, do not shy away from taking it. This Mental Health Day, breathe the air you wish for, create the life you dreamt for,” says Astha Nagpal, Consultant Counsellor, Kirori Mal College, Delhi University, and Founder, Daffodils Therapy Studio, Delhi, in her statement on World Mental Health Day.
Takeaway: Let’s work collectively to build a world in which mental health is valued, promoted and protected; where everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy mental health and to exercise their human rights; and where everyone can access the mental health care they need. It is everyone’s business, not only of policy makers, psychiatrists or counsellors. We as parents, teachers, family members, friends and as productive members of society have the responsibility to be sensible with our words and actions. We need to ask ourselves at every move whether I am leading someone towards mental health or mental illness. One body shaming comment is enough to trigger feelings of worthlessness and suicidal ideation among a person and one positive statement is enough to make someone’s day. One negative personal attack by an employer is enough to force a person to seek resignation. Harsh and demeaning words by parents and spouse are enough to ruin someone. Let’s prioritise our mental health and those of our loved ones. Let’s not run away from seeking mental health help and be open about the emotional turmoil and psychological issues we face. Above all, let’s tame our minds not to become like scampering monkeys; take a pause and give the mind a rest.
The writer is a PhD scholar at Dept of Psychology, University of Kashmir. [email protected]

 

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