The moment someone hears words such as ‘mad’, ‘insane’, ‘nuts’, ‘cranky’, etc. it sends jitters through the body and mind, doesn’t it? Majority of people in the world feel like this. Even I felt so but only before I entered into my Master’s Course in Clinical Psychology. Whew! I am relieved, as I have broken myself free of the fear of mental illness.
I can align myself to many of your fears and negative feelings as I was also sailing in the same boat. But, now things have changed. What helped me through it was psycho-education on some pivotal aspects of what the mind is, what mental health is, what mental illness is and how can we prevent or manage mental health issues.
The human brain is the biological aspect, where as the mind is the seat of consciousness, feelings, emotions and so on. The human mind is divided into three parts:
1) The conscious mind
2) The sub-conscious mind
3) The unconscious mind
The conscious mind is what you are thinking about at present, in the current situation. Present thinking, decision-making, present behavior, etc. fall into this category of the mind. The periphery of the sub-conscious mind is rather a different one. The sub-conscious mind, as the name suggests, is that part of your thoughts, personality and behavior that is secluded from the rest of the world. Long-lost memories, bitter experiences that are shocking to you, dreams, defenses, irrational thinking, socially unacceptable and repressed thoughts, instincts, urges, etc. are some of the vital components of the sub-conscious mind. Problems in our mental health sometimes occur when there is a disturbance in this realm of the mind. Unconscious mind is one that is seated extremely in the deepest depths of a human’s mind and is rarely accessible. It is considered as an iceberg whose 1/10th part can be accessed through intensive and extensive psychological techniques and the rest 9/10th part remain in the dark. It is also called the hidden or dark chamber of mind. In a nutshell, all our thoughts, emotions, personality, behavior; everything that we are today are created and regulated by the interactions of the three realms of our mind.
Now, let me move towards what mental health is, what mental illnesses are and how to prevent/manage a mental health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” So this definition clearly states that mental health is something that leads to all-round well-being and development of not only an individual but also the society as a whole. But, defying this definition many of us fall prey to different mental illnesses too. Isn’t it? Mental disorders are broadly categorized into two parts. They are: 1) Psychoneurotic / Neurotic Disorders, 2) Psychotic disorders. Psychoneurotic disorders are disorders that are easily treatable with a bit of effort and interventions. Problems like stress, anxiety, tensions, and depression fall under this category. However, there are some disorders that require long-term treatment, intensive care, sometimes hospitalization, medications, psychotherapy, etc. as part of their interventions. These are called psychotic disorders. You must have heard about bipolar disorder, mania, unipolar disorder, paranoia, schizophrenia, etc. These are psychotic disorders and should not be ignored in any case.
Mental disorders crop up due to some major reasons. The obvious ones are genetic transmission, neurological disturbances in the brain, situational factors and faulty coping to life’s stressors and problems. Almost everyone reading this post must be wondering about how to prevent these or deal with these. The most effective way is to maintain good mental health hygiene. It means to lead a good mental life, a well-balanced mental life and a healthy mental life. Let me tell you some of the ways in which you can maintain and achieve a good mental health hygiene and regime:
- Eat healthy i.e. a balanced diet, rest properly and do not compromise with your health.
- A walk or exercise a day keeps the doctor away.
- Accomplish the three S of: Self-respect, Self-recognition and Self- reconciliation.
- Recognize your potentialities, harness them, believe in yourself and believe in the best.
- Maintaining a daily diary of to-do tasks, have-done tasks, your everyday learning and future planning keeps many problems at bay.
- Have good friends in life, enjoy, party, and socialize. Man is a social animal so social stimulation is also necessary.
- Even if you are busy 22/5 a week still then take at least some “me” time for yourself. Time in which you can spend some moments with yourself and your inner being.
- Meditate, as it’s the key to energize you for a day’s work and potential challenges.
- Do not hesitate to express your feelings, your problems and your concerns. An effective communication and expression of feelings are the most effective ways of keeping the mind free of emotional burden and ultimately keeping it healthy.
- Educate yourself about different mental health problems (just the symptoms, self care and management outlets).
- Talk to your GP, psychologist or psychiatrist if you or anyone known to you experiences a mental health issue.
- Know about the different helplines and avenues of help present through online therapy systems or face-to-face settings. Do not hesitate to contact them as soon as you face the need.
- Most importantly, never lose hope. No problem in life comes without a solution. If you can find the solution yourself it’s great. Yippee. But, if you struggle finding a solution, it’s always great to ask for help, a shoulder to lean on. Do not let your inhibitions pull you back, just go for it.
Gone are the days when people with mental health problems were tortured in asylums. Today, with changing times, mind – sets, value systems, science and technological advancements, broadened outlook, mental disorders can be kept at bay. Even if they occur due to certain reason, no matter how deadly it is, there is a solution for it. There are many medical/psychological/alternative interventions available, and there is hope and positivity. All you need to do is get off your couch and work on it as you deserve a happy and healthy mental life, and you are the best person who can do the best justice to your life. Wish you a happy and healthy life folks!