Mental Health Week is May 6th to 12th!

It’s Mental Health Week!

Mental Health Week runs from May 6th to May 12th this year! The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) started this week 68 years ago in an effort to spread awareness and education surrounding mental health. CMHA hopes that in promoting the conversation around mental health, that all individuals will come to understand that every single person has mental health, just like we all have physical health. Many people often use the terms “mental health” and “mental illness” interchangeably, when in fact all people have mental health, whereas 1 in 5 Canadians will be diagnosed with a mental illness. A common misconception is that when our mental health is suffering, it means we have a mental illness. This is not the case! You can be unwell mentally at any point in time due to a number of contributing factors. The theme for this years’ Mental Health Week is #GetLoud, because we want to get loud about the importance of mental health! This is what this week is all about – promotion, education and awareness, and why it’s important for everyone to engage in mental health care!

Mental Health and Mental Illness

As mentioned above, mental health and mental illness are two different things. Mental health refers to an individual’s emotional and psychological well-being. Mental illness refers to the psychiatric disorders defined by behavioural or mental patterns that cause significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. The types of mental illness include anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders and sleep disorders. These are caused by chemical imbalances in the hormones and neurotransmitters in the brain. Just like physical disorders, some individuals are more predisposed to the likelihood of developing a mental illness, however anyone can experience a mental illness. There are several different forms of treatment and coping strategies available to help individuals who are diagnosed with a mental illness function at a regular level and live fulfilling lives.

So what about the rest of us? If we don’t have a mental illness, why would we need to take care of our mental health? When our mental health is low, it impacts our regular functioning and can eventually lead to poor physical health. Typically, when mental health is poor for someone who does not have a mental illness, it is usually caused by external environmental factors versus internal biological factors. Some examples of poor mental health include:

  • Being overly stressed or overwhelmed – maybe caused by work, relationships, school or finances
  • Feeling sad over a loss
  • Being anxious due to an upcoming event, such as a big test or important event
  • Feelings of being unfulfilled due to a lack of self-care
  • Experiencing compassion fatigue or burnout

How do we Take Care of our Mental Health

The unique thing about mental health is how different it is for every single person. What works for one person to increase their mental health may not work for another. The key is to engage is self-exploration to understand what kind of factors decrease your mental health and well being, and what factors increase and improve your mental health when it has declined. Everyone is different, but here are some universal self care tips that have statistically shown to result in positive well-being!

  • Practice gratitude – focus on the things in your life you are grateful for
  • Practice mindfulness – try grounding techniques and being present in the moment
  • Take time for the things that matter to you – hobbies, reading, getting out in nature, etc.
  • Engage in social interactions – laughing with friends and spending time with loved ones
  • Participate in physical resiliency activities such as exercise, sports or going for walks

There is a lot of things you can do to keep your mental health in a positive range – but it has to be meaningful to you as an individual! Sometimes, in the case of mental illness, there is a hormonal or neurotransmitter issue within the chemistry of the brain. In these instances, an individual may need further intervention and should speak with their doctor.

Mental Health in the Workplace

Gowan Consulting has many resources for assisting with managing mental health in the workplace! We’re in a new era of inspiring positive change surrounding mental health in the workplace. We want to talk about it, understand it, and be open about it!

For more on all we have to offer, contact us! We want to help make the difference in your healthy business!

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