Getting to Know Our Mental Health

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PsychoEducation as a toolbox for wellbeing

If I asked you, “Do you have mental health?” what would your answer be?

Perhaps you assume I’m talking about mental health difficulties, such as depression or personality disorders. Or maybe you think ‘Well, I get stressed from time to time, but that’s not a real issue’.

Well, when we talk about mental health, we should think of it in the same way we’d think about physical health. Are you physically healthy? Yeah, sure! Are you mentally healthy? Hmm, that’s a tough one.

Mental health is still, unfortunately, something that often goes under the radar when considering our general health and wellbeing. If you experienced a pain in your leg – either a sudden and intense pain, or a dull ache over a period of time – you’d go to the doctor. You wouldn’t feel any shame in talking about it; you’d probably ask your parents to drive you to the clinic, you’d happily tell your friends what the doctor said, and you’d follow the doctor’s advice. Whatever you identified as causing the pain, you’d try, in future, to avoid it. Now imagine this scenario if you’re suffering some sort of mental discomfort – the story looks quite different, right?

As a young person, you have a whole host of stresses and ups and downs to deal with in life. You have the pressure of school and the expectations that are put upon you; exam stress; changing and sometimes turbulent relationships; managing relationships with peers adults and siblings; establishing your own identity and working out what and who you want to become…and the list goes on…

These pressures are bound, at one time or another, to take their toll on your mental health. You might suffer stress and anxiety around exams. You might feel really down if you’ve had a disagreement with friends. You might worry about that awkward public exchange with your friend on Facebook. These feelings are perfectly normal and, if we can educate ourselves about them, can actually help us to grow into resilient young adults. We shouldn’t be scared of saying, ‘Actually, my mental health isn’t so great at the moment…what tools do I have to get better?’

What is PsychoEducation?

Just as you were taught at school about the negative impact on your body of eating junk food, or not drinking enough water or not getting enough sleep, PscyhoEducation teaches you how to look after your mental health. Not only that, but it also educates you about how your mind functions in conjunction with your body, making sense of some strange physical reactions your body might have towards psychologically stressful situations. For example, you know that weird butterfly feeling you get in your tummy when you’re nervous about a presentation? That’s actually blood leaving your digestive system and travelling to your limbs – cool, right? Just understanding how normal some of these (often scary) sensations are is the first step to managing your mental health.

Over the next few issues of TYV, we’ll be looking at Psycho-educating our readers and (hopefully) inspiring you to take as much care of your mental health as you do your physical health.

We’ll be taking a look at:

What’s normal about mental health

How your body reacts to your mind (and vice-versa)

Flexing your mental health muscles

Building resilience

And much more…

If you have any questions, or you’d like to share your mental health story or advice, Write us at editor@theyoungvision.com