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The SANE Blog

Global Wellness Day: A Focus on Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing

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Global Wellness Day in June each year serves as a reminder of the importance of overall wellbeing. While physical health often takes the spotlight, mental health advocacy needs equal attention because it encourages individuals to recognise the value of mental wellbeing, understand an array of mental health issues, and seek help when needed. This post delves into why mental health awareness is vital and how you can protect your own mental health. 

The importance of mental health awareness 

Mental health awareness involves recognising mental health conditions, understanding their impact, and knowing how to seek and provide support. It breaks down the stigma surrounding mental ill-health which is one of the significant barriers preventing people from obtaining help. Stigma can lead to shame, fear, and silence, causing individuals to suffer alone. Awareness campaigns and education can reduce this stigma, making it easier for people to talk about their experiences and seek assistance. 

Mental health issues are widespread. According to the World Health Organization, depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting over 280 million people. Anxiety disorders affect more than 300 million people, but 3 in 4 sufferers don’t receive treatment. These statistics highlight the need for increased awareness and resources to aid those struggling with mental health issues. 

Awareness also promotes early intervention through diagnosis and treatment. By recognising the signs and symptoms, individuals can seek help before their condition worsens. This proactive approach can lead to better outcomes and improve quality of life. 

Furthermore, mental health awareness fosters empathy and understanding. When people are educated about mental health, they are more likely to support friends, family, and colleagues who may be struggling. This creates a more inclusive and empathic community where everyone feels valued and understood. 

How to protect your own mental health 

In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to become overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, and daily challenges. By adopting proactive strategies and self-care practices, you can build resilience, reduce stress, and enhance your emotional wellbeing. Here are some steps you can take to safeguard your mental health: 

  • Practise gratitude: Keeping a gratitude journal can help shift your focus from what you lack to what you have. Each day, write down three things you are grateful for. This activity can increase feelings of happiness and contentment. 
  • Challenge and reframe negative thoughts: Negative thoughts can be pervasive and damaging. When you notice a negative thought, challenge its validity. Ask yourself if there is evidence to support it, or if there is a way to view the situation from another perspective, or what you can learn from the situation and how you can use it to your advantage. Reframing negative thoughts can reduce their impact on your mood. 
  • Surround yourself with positivity: The people you surround yourself with can influence your mindset. Spend time with positive individuals who uplift and encourage you, and cultivate relationships with those who can provide emotional support and practical help during tough times. Avoid those who bring negativity and stress into your life. 
  • Engage in positive self-talk: How you talk to yourself matters. Replace self-criticism with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your strengths and achievements. Speak to yourself as if you were speaking to a friend. 
  • Set realistic goals and expectations: Setting and achieving small, realistic goals can create a sense of accomplishment and motivation. Break larger tasks into manageable steps and celebrate your progress along the way. Accept that perfection is unattainable and that setbacks are a normal part of life.  
  • Practise mindfulness: Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and accepting it without judgement. It can help you stay grounded, refrain from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, and reduce the overall impact of negative thoughts. There are several effective mindfulness techniques including mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindful movement. 
  • Focus only on what you can control: Accept that some things are beyond your control and let them go. Ruminating about them simply consumes mental energy that you can use productively elsewhere. Instead, direct your energy and attention towards only those aspects of your life that you can influence. Concentrate on your own reactions, decisions, and actions, and this will reduce feelings of helplessness.  
  • Learn from experience: Reflect on past experiences where you overcame difficulties. Identify the strategies that helped you and consider how you can apply them to current problems. Learning from the past can nurture your ability to cope with future adversity. 
  • Set and maintain boundaries: Establishing boundaries is essential for protecting your mental health. Learn to say no to activities or commitments that may cause additional stress or take up time you don’t really have. Prioritise self-care and ensure you have opportunities for rest and rejuvenation. 
  • Embrace change: Unfortunately, humans would rather be unhappy than uncertain.  Change is a natural part of life, but it’s something people most fear. Learning ways to embrace change is therefore key to foster endurance and look after mental health. 
  • Use problem-solving skills: When confronted with a problem, break it down into smaller, manageable parts. Identify potential solutions and weigh their pros and cons. Choose a course of action and take the first step towards resolving the issue. This structured approach to problem solving can reduce feelings of overwhelmment and increase your confidence in handling challenges. 
  • Practise visualisation: Visualisation is a powerful tool for protecting mental health by creating mental images of positive outcomes and peaceful scenarios. This tool helps reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus, and boost confidence. By regularly visualising success and calmness, you can train your mind to respond more positively to real-life situations, enhancing overall wellbeing and stamina. 
  • Exercise self-compassion: Self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness and understanding during difficult times. Recognise that everyone makes mistakes and experiences setbacks. Instead of criticising yourself, offer words of encouragement and validation.  
  • Take care of your physical health: Physical wellbeing is closely linked to mental health. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and relaxation techniques can improve your resilience. Taking care of your body gives you the energy and strength to face obstacles. 
  • Seek professional help when needed: There is no shame in seeking help from a mental health professional. Therapy and counselling can provide you with tools and strategies to cope and manage mental ill-health. Additionally, there are many online forums and support groups for people dealing with mental health issues: 
  • Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) - ph: 1300 643 287 
  • Open Minds (a partner of SANE) - ph: 1300 673 664) 

As we celebrate Global Wellness Day, let’s remember that mental health is a key component of overall wellbeing. By raising awareness, breaking down stigma, and adopting proactive strategies, we can create a more supportive and understanding community, and significantly enhance our own emotional resilience, adaptability, and quality of life.  

Dr. Carissa Coulston-Parkinson is a Clinical Psychologist with specialist knowledge in the areas of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, intellectual disability, personality disorders, traumatic brain injury and neurological conditions. 

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