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The World Health Organisation dictum “no health without mental health” is familiar to many of us. Mental illness is very common, with nearly half of all Australians developing a mental illness at some point in their lives.
In my opinion, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. When was the last time one of your New Year’s resolutions include getting yourself mentally healthy? Or self-care?
For many, the answer may be never.
Mental health matters.
There is a clear correlation between mental and physical health and the balance should be stacked in favour of one over the other. Your body and your mind should not be thought of as separate, but often they are. A clear distinction is often made between the two. However, the reality is that poor physical health can lead to increased risk of mental health concerns just as poor mental health can begin to impact and degrade physical health.
Put simply…mental health plays a major role in your ability to maintain good physical health. Reversed, mental health concerns affect your ability to participate in healthy behaviours and to remain physically well.
And yet, it’s easy to take mental health for granted in ourselves and in others. Physical health is tangible, visible and evident; a bruise, a broken arm, a heart murmur. But mental health, well…If we aren’t talking about it, sharing, or aware of the signs, it can easily slip under the radar. There’s nothing visible to alert you that your mental health or the health of someone you love is suffering. There are signs, but you have to be paying attention and aware of what they are. There are pieces to the mental health puzzle.
If we go back to the connect, and to the assumption that the mind and body are not distinct, we can accept that common mental health problems often begin to show up as physical problems such as headaches, fatigue, stress, palpitations, changes in sleeping patterns, listlessness, appetite fluctuations, muscular tension, aggravated symptoms of existing problems and so on.
The reality is that if you don’t attend to your mental and emotional needs, your quality of life suffers; your work suffers; your relationships suffer; your physical health suffers.
A recent TED presentation shares the experience of TED Fellow Sangu Delle who was suffering from stress. He had to confront his own deep prejudice: that men shouldn’t take care of their mental health. In a personal talk, Delle shared how he learned to handle anxiety in a society that’s uncomfortable with emotions. As he says: “Being honest about how we feel doesn’t make us weak, it makes us human.”
Watch the talk at TED
Your mental health is essential and its so important that you put your mental health at the top of your priority list.
Reach out and ask for support if you need it. Talk to someone you trust if you feel isolated or alone. Remember that its ok to say that you are not ok.